Pete Ingram: ‘To clear myself, I’d tell on my momma’

Co-defendant maintains uncle responsible for murder, robbery

By Kevin Spradlin

Previous coverage
* 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

ROCKINGHAM — Do the 12 members of the jury panel, plus the three alternates, look at Stephen Freedman as a defense attorney who’s poking holes in the state’s star witness? Or are they in shock about what could be interpreted as a deliberate attempt to confuse a man diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor?

The answer may not matter. What matters is whether or not Freedman fellow defense attorney Frank Wells can convince at least one of the 12 jurors there is reasonable doubt as to the guilt of their client, Alexander Ingram, in the murder of former Norman General Store owner Michael Leverne Collins Sr. Finding the defendant guilty in the Nov. 26, 2012 murder is an all-or-nothing deal.

Henry Thomas "Pete" Ingram, left, and Alexander Ingram, right.

Henry Thomas “Pete” Ingram, left, and Alexander Ingram, right.

Henry Thomas “Pete” Ingram, 53, faces the same charges of first degree murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon in Collins’ death. Pete Ingram is being tried separately. On Wednesday, Freedman used the bulk of the morning session inside Courtroom E on the third floor of the Richmond County Judicial Center to try and get Pete Ingram to:

* Admit inconsistencies in the clothing he provided to Richmond County Sheriff’s Office personnel on Nov. 27, 2012, and what he told them;

* Admit inconsistencies in whether Pete Ingram had been interviewed three times or five times about the incident by sheriff’s office personnel or Assistant District Attorney Dawn Layton;

* Pin himself in a corner as the only person who could have possibly known how to take Richmond County Sheriff’s Office investigators to the precise point where the hammer was found.

Freedman’s purpose for using the word “directly” might not have dawned on Pete Ingram, but it likely made an impact among those on the jury panel. Pete Ingram testified on Tuesday that his uncle, Alexander Ingram, had tossed the hammer out of a moving truck in the dark, in an area with no streetlights.

Pete Ingram acknowledged he offered to take investigators to recover the hammer. But, Freedman said, only after they indicated they’d give his story any weight was with the recovery of the hammer. According to a transcript while Pete Ingram was being questioned on Nov. 27, 2012, at the sheriff’s office in downtown Rockingham by Det. Robert Heaton and Det. Jay Childers, Heaton suggested that “if you want to put a little validity in your story,” Pete Ingram would offer up the hammer.

Said Pete Ingram, according to the transcript: “C’mon, let’s go … I’m gonna show you where it’s at. I’m gonna take you dead to it.”

In open court, Freedman narrowed Pete Ingram’s position.

“You took them directly to the hammer,” he asked.

Pete Ingram: “Yes.”

Pete Ingram maintains that he’s served a little more than two years and four months in prison for stealing a single cigarette off the counter of the Norman General Store after his uncle, Alexander Ingram, murdered Collins.

On Wednesday, under redirect with Layton, when he and his uncle were driving, Pete Ingram said he was under the impression they were going home. He was surprised when Alexander Ingram drove his truck into the parking lot of the Norman General Store.

“I’m going to get my money back,” Pete Ingram said his uncle conveyed before asking Michael Collins Sr., who was coming out of the store after its 11 p.m. closing time, to reopen for a moment to cut some meat.

Pete Ingram said Collins wouldn’t have opened for him.

The defense — that of Alexander Ingram’s, that is — maintained that Pete Ingram would say just about anything to get out of prison.

“You’ll say what you have to say to avoid the truth … to get a hopeful plea and get out of jail,” Freedman said to Pete Ingram on the witness stand.

“No,” Pete Ingram replied.

Freedman read a portion of a transcript from a recorded interview between Pete Ingram and Layton on Jan. 29, 2015. During that interview, Pete Ingram allegedly told authorities that if it meant clearing himself, “I’d tell on my momma.”

Pete Ingram maintained that’s the truth, in that “if she did something wrong … I’d tell on my momma.”


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