Chase Starts in Raleigh, Ends in Tragedy and Murder Charge

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A 40-year-old Williamston man driving east on U.S. 264 Bypass would have been charged with serious crimes if he had not fled when Raleigh police signaled for him to pull over. His decision to elude capture, though, has added an even more serious charge: murder. As he led sheriff’s deputies from Wake and Nash counties on a chase through area roads, he struck and killed a North Carolina state trooper.

The story started badly for the suspect, but his decision to take off has earned him a potential life sentence and cost a man his life. The suspect is accused of forcing his way into a home where a woman he knew lived with her 21-month-old child. She told authorities he then restrained her and her child, barricaded them in a room and left. He took her ATM card with him. The woman and her child were able to escape to a friend’s home, where she called the police.

Based on those allegations, the Raleigh police were able to obtain a warrant for the suspect’s arrest. Breaking into the woman’s home brought a charge of burglary; taking the ATM card (which he later used) brought charges of common-law robbery and obtaining property by false pretenses. By restraining the woman and her child, he earned charges of assault on a female and assault on a child, and for barricading them in a room and leaving, he was charged with two counts of kidnapping.

When a Raleigh police officer spotted the man several hours later, he was driving his Nissan coupe, headed east on U.S. 264 Bypass. After refusing to pull over, the suspect fled. During the chase, the suspect entered U.S. 64 on an exit ramp and headed east, against traffic.

State troopers, including the victim, had responded to calls for assistance with the chase. They were putting stop sticks — devices that puncture tires without causing a blowout — in the road when the suspect came from the wrong direction, struck the victim and fled again, only to crash soon after. The suspect attempted to escape on foot, but officers were able to apprehend him.

Police feel the loss of a fellow officer acutely. Hundreds of state troopers from around the country attended the victim’s funeral. The funeral included a rider-less horse and a horse-drawn caisson carrying the trooper’s flag-draped coffin.

The suspect is now charged with a murder that carries significant emotional weight with law enforcement and prosecutors. If convicted, he could spend the rest of his life in prison, because he chose to run.

Source: News & Observer, “State trooper killed while trying to stop crime suspect who was fleeing arrest,” Thomasi McDonald and Matt Caulder, Sept. 10, 2012

Our firm defends suspects like the man discussed in this post. If you would like to learn more about our practice, please visit our Raleigh criminal defense page.