Attorney: Cary teen's death an accident, not murder
Posted June 29, 2015
Raleigh, N.C. — The death of a 16-year-old Cary girl last week was an accident, not murder, an attorney for one of the four people accused in the teenager's death said Monday.
The four people charged – Jourdan Chanquion Mack, 20; Beth Strange, 18; Abijah James Masse, 17; and Joshua Odell Simmons, 17, all of Morrisville – were all denied bond during a court hearing Monday.
Investigators said the four suspects met the victim, Katherine "Katie" Burdick-Crow, at Walnut Street Park on Friday night for a drug deal.
According to a search warrant, Burdick-Crow chased two of the suspects after they stole marijuana from her that she planned to sell to them. They got into a truck, and she jumped onto the step rail near the driver, according to the warrant.
The driver, Simmons, then started driving faster and punched Burdick-Crow in the face and head several times until she fell from the moving truck, according to the search warrant. She died early the next day at WakeMed.
Monday's court hearing was emotional for the suspects' family and friends, some of whom wept and hugged each other.
"These are not bad kids that you're dealing with," said attorney Julian Hall, who represents Masse. "We're not looking at this thing like your typical murder. It seems like an accident."
Hall asked Masse's parents to stand as he addressed the court and told the judge that his client had never been in trouble before.
"He works in the children's ministry at the Summit Church," Hall said. "He's been involved in the youth ministry for upwards of five years. Again, a very good kid. It's a tragic incident for all of the families involved."
The victim's parents released a statement, saying they are devastated by their daughter's death: "We appreciate the outpouring of love and support from so many of our friends. Katie was a very loving, caring person and it is a shame her life has ended so soon."
Two of the four suspects were students at Green Hope High School, the same school Burdick-Crow attended. Cary officials said Masse is a student at Green Hope, and Mack graduated from there in 2013. Simmons is a student at Panther Creek High School, and Strange graduated from there in May.
A man called 911 after finding Burdick-Crow's body in the street as he left Walnut Street Park. He told an emergency dispatcher that she was bloody and unresponsive. He also described a male witness who was acting erratically and wanting to leave the scene.
"There's a gentleman here with blood all over his face," the caller said in a recording released Saturday. "He's acting very strange. He said not to call the police, but I'm calling you because, this girl, I don't feel a pulse or anything. Someone needs to get here really quickly."