Local News

DA won't seek death in Chapel Hill man's slaying

Posted February 18, 2009

— Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall said Wednesday he won't seek the death penalty against six men charged with killing a Chapel Hill man last summer.

Authorities found the body of Joshua McCabe Bailey, 20, on Sept. 12 near Jordan Lake in Chatham County, three weeks after his family reported him missing. Investigators said they believe he was killed and buried on July 29 in Orange County and that the body was later dug up and moved to Chatham County.

Six men – Brandon Hamilton Greene, 26; Ryan Ladar Davis Lee, 20; Jack Johnson II, 19; Brian Gregory Minton, 18; Jacob Alexander Maxwell, 18, and Matt Johnson – face face first-degree murder and first-degree kidnapping charges in Bailey's death.

Woodall said in court Wednesday that the group had gathered at Minton's home and pitted Bailey and Matt Johnson against each other, saying one of them had been talking to police about the group's drug activities or had cheated the others out of drugs or money.

After the group drove to a wooded area in Orange County, Matt Johnson was forced to shoot Bailey in the back of the head as Bailey stood in the depression left by an uprooted tree, Woodall said.

Although he had enough evidence to pursue a capital case against the men, he said he felt more comfortable trying the case with only a life sentence on the line.

"I think they understood the reasons," Woodall said of Bailey's family. "That does not mean they agree completely with every decision that I made or everything I told them, but I think they understood and accepted the reasoning."

Bailey's parents declined to comment after the court hearing, but they issued a statement saying they support Woodall's decision.

"While we do not have any particular objection to the death penalty, we also do not believe that it is the only path to follow," Steve and Julie Bailey said in the statement. "We are confident that Mr. Woodall has a well-developed plan to bring the ones that murdered our son to justice."

Three other people – Gregory Lee Minton, 41, Mishele Slade Minton, 37, and Chris Manley, 23 – each face a charge of accessory after the fact to first-degree murder. Authorities said they tried to cover up evidence of the crime.

Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour also granted Lee a $1 million bond in the case. If he is able to post the bond, he will be under a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew and will be prohibited from contacting Bailey's family or any of his co-defendants.

The other five men charged with murder are being held without bond in the Orange County Jail.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • justjack56 Feb 20, 2009

    Interesting comments here by people who obviously don't know the justice system OR the family. DA's choose their course of pursuit in a case - not parents of victims. If we don't like the DA's decision we need to be contacting his office and telling him. 919-732-9334 or Orange Co. Courthouse, 106 E. Margaret Ln., Hillsborough, NC 27278. THAT'S action. Not comments here.

  • ncguy Feb 19, 2009

    I see the death of Eve carson they go for the death penalty but not these people??

    That's the media at work- the DA should be ashamed!

  • tiredofgovtwaste Feb 19, 2009

    This is liberal orange county where you get elected to office based on the number of friends one has. it has nothing to do with intelligence, the size of one's whatever or the desire to serve the people who you represent. this is just an another reason that if you want to do a crime do it in orange county

  • Panther Feb 18, 2009

    Would the Orange Co. DA say the same thing if it was one of his family members? Heil NO he would go for the gusto!

  • Proud Young Grandma Feb 18, 2009

    fundybasher - prison is club-med compared to what that poor boy suffered. Those responsible for his death will have it made in jail.

  • WWJGD Feb 18, 2009


    The shame should go to yourself for not paying attention when reading comprehension was taught.

  • SunnyDays Feb 18, 2009

    I will never understand our justice system, I don't care what county it is. This is wrong, wrong, wrong. It was the parent's decision to make, it was the DA's.

  • fundybasher Feb 18, 2009

    "As it stands now, you can kill someone and just go to jail for life. How bad is that?"

    Pretty darn bad in my opinion. If I had the choice of spending my life in jail, or being put to sleep painlessly, I'd definitely go with the latter. But that's just me.

    "No bills to pay, free health care, free everything basically."

    Free everything...except Free dom.

    talk about rose-colored glasses. you make prison sound like club med.

  • braddyg Feb 18, 2009

    "It's not the DA or the whole of Orange County that's chosen not to seek the death penalty. It's the victim's parents who've made that choice."

    I think respecting the parents' wishes is a nice idea, but the parents don't write, enforce, or prosecute the law - the DA does. No matter what the parents say, the decision ultimately lies with the DA.

  • colliedave Feb 18, 2009

    The voters in Orange County need to remember the DA when election time comes and give him the boot!!!

    Tell me that voters in the Peoples Republic of Orange County believe in the death penalty, It really is a moot point when the dems that control government will not push for the death penalty to be carried out.