Judge denies jury’s request for copy of ‘long and complicated’ instructions

Deliberations continue in trial of accused murderer

By Kevin Spradlin

ROCKINGHAM — Superior Court Judge Richard T. Brown rejected a request by the jury of seven men and five women for a printed copy of the instructions by which jurors are to consider the law and determine the guilt or lack thereof regarding Alexander Ingram.

Alexander Ingram

Alexander Ingram

Ingram is on trial trial for the murder of former Norman General Store owner Michael Leverne Collins Sr. It’s alleged that on Nov. 26, 2012, Ingram used a hammer to beat Collins to death and stole his wallet that contained between $400 and $500.

The jury forman, Juror No. 5, gave a handwritten note at 11:48 a.m. to a bailiff, who passed it on to Brown. Brown read in open court that jurors wanted a copy of the instructions — which took Brown 26 minutes to deliver verbally on Tuesday before deliberations began. Specifically, the note requested the portion that covered what was required under the law to find the defendant guilty.

“I don’t care on way or another,” said Assistant District Attorney Dawn Layton.

But defense attorney Stephen Freedman objected. He said the time to provide a copy of written instructions was before they began deliberating, not now. In any event, he wanted the jury also to be reminded of the burden of proof and the legal concept of beyond a reasonable doubt.

Brown chose to provide to the jury the entire set of instructions — again verbally, though this time it took only 25 minutes. Brown told the jury that from this point on, he’d be willing to repeat any portion requested.

Freedman wanted language from the North Carolina Supreme Court decision State v Smith (1987) to be given to the jurors, specifically guidance that if a unanimous decision can’t be reached, simply let the court know. Brown declined that request, too, but said he might consider that if jurors tell him for a second time that deliberations are at an impasse.

After the repetition of the instructions to jurors, they requested to go to lunch.

Earlier Wednesday, jurors had asked to see the shoes taken by investigators from Alexander Ingram’s Jackson Springs home. They also sought photos of the chest of draws from Ingram’s bedroom. Those requested were fulfilled.

Through 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, jurors have deliberated a little more than five and one-half hours. Meanwhile, nearly 20 people sit inside or nearby Courtroom E on the third floor of the Richmond County Judicial Center doing pretty much nothing.

At the top of the list is Brown, along with a court clerk and court reporter. In addition, Layton and a fellow ADA, plus four law enforcement officers — Det. Terri Childers, Capt. Jay Childers, former Det. Robert Heaton and Deputy Chris Bynum — await in the courtroom. Freedman, plus co-defense attorney Frank Wells, along with their investigator, fill in the defense side of the courtroom with Ingram himself, who sat reading a book much of Wednesday morning.

In addition, Ingram has three family members in the courtroom. There are also two members of the media.

Previous coverage
* 4/7: Jury foreman: Deliberations ‘at an impasse’
* 4/7: Jurors weighing ‘believable evidence’
* 4/6: Defense: Cops ‘just didn’t do their job’
* 4/6: Case against Alexander Ingram goes to jury
* 4/3: Things the jurors will never know
* 4/2: Judge denies defense motion for mistrial
* 4/2: Defense seeks mistrial
* 4/1: Detective: ‘I forgot’ to search co-defendant’s home
* 4/1: Pete Ingram: ‘To clear myself, I’d tell on my momma’
* 3/31: Co-defendant: ‘My uncle killed that man’
* 3/31: Defendant’s nephew: My uncle did it
* 3/30: 911 calls replayed, detectives questioned
* 3/30: Victim’s wife of defendant: ‘He was our friend’
* 3/27: Alternates selected, opening statements set for Monday
* 3/26: Medical emergency delays murder trial
* 3/25: ‘At a particular place at a particular time’
* 3/25: Jury set in murder trial of Norman General Store owner
* 3/25: Prospective juror caught up in gambling ring
* 3/24: Race becomes an issue in jury selection
* 3/24: Defense works from “presumption of innocence”
* 3/23: Jury selection begins in murder trial

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