Local News

Driver charged with murder in deaths of 4 on Johnston road

Posted July 13, 2015

Map Marker  Find News Near Me

— A Zebulon man faces murder charges after his vehicle swerved off a Johnston County road late Sunday and into a crowd of bystanders, killing four people.

According to State Highway Patrol investigators and witnesses, Jimmy Pearce, 37, of 11557D N.C. Highway 39, was racing his 1989 Ford Mustang against another vehicle on Simon Road just before 11 p.m. when he lost control near Buckhorn Drive and veered into a crowd of more than a dozen spectators.

Pearce's car came to a stop after hitting a tree, and he suffered minor injuries, investigators said.

The collision killed four people – Carlton Ray Brooks, 42, Undra Montrell Taybron, 40, Garland Earp, 39, and Arrington Earp, 23.

"It's just not real," Sonya Earp said. She lost both her brother and her only son in an instant.

Three others Larry Deans, Roncellis Marshall and Ida Mae Rapa – were injured and were being treated Monday at WakeMed in Raleigh.

Pearce was charged with three counts of second-degree murder and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon. He was being held under a $1 million secured bond in the Johnston County jail.

Sonya Earp said she doesn't blame Pearce for what she called "a freak accident."

"I'm not mad at him. I don't have a feeling of animosity because I don't think it was something he set out to do," she said.

The driver of the other vehicle, who witnesses said was traveling in the wrong lane at the time of the crash, fled the scene, and authorities asked the public for help to identify that person or that car. Anyone with information is asked to contact the State Highway Patrol by calling 1-800-662-7956.


Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • Eddie Brock Jul 14, 2015
    user avatar

    This is something I'd expect out of a teenager or someone in their early 20's. Someone who is 37 years old should know better.

  • Jae'lin Crowder Jul 14, 2015
    user avatar

    Fox body Mustangs are hard to control without mods.My coworker put a GT 350 motor in his and it's almost impossible to control. I'm sure he didn't me to loose control but our justice system isn't built around feelings. I pray for everyone evolved

  • Craig Elliott Jul 13, 2015
    user avatar

    This is most likely the worst day of Jimmy Pearce's life.

    The definition of 2nd degree murder in NC includes the statement:
    "The malice necessary to prove second degree murder is based on an inherently dangerous act or omission, done in such a reckless and wanton manner as to manifest a mind utterly without regard for human life and social duty and deliberately bent on mischief."

    He may have a hard time beating that, and I presume the other racer will be similarly charged.

    Tragic for all involved.

  • Paul Jones Jul 13, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    That's a good point. I just didn't like the comment that we should blame the other driver, too. What both drivers did is illegal, I assume. However, violating the law is one thing. Killing somebody is another. And our society is just too fast to blame people for accidents and to blame anyone remotely related to accidents.

    Unless this man intentionally killed those people, I would prefer he not face anything more than involuntary manslaughter. Yeah, he was racing, but everyone there was involved in it.

  • Mike Hill Jul 13, 2015
    user avatar

    Senseless tragedy. Prayers to the victims families.

  • Gen Lee Jul 13, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    There is a racetrack in Johnston County, but you have to pay. Even if there were more tracks that doesn't mean stupidity like this wouldn't be on the road

  • Fred Kozlof Jul 13, 2015
    user avatar

    Wow, what a wake up call that must be for those folks. Sadly, jail time won't rehabilitate,nor restore the losses, nor stop others from racing. So ...just where can they hold speed contests without using the public roads? Are there any tracks around that give public access? Wouldn't such availability get it off of our roads?

  • Gen Lee Jul 13, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    but what about the ones who don't have a conscious. this guy might not care less if he killed someone.
    if you do it it is your responsibility to take the blame.

  • Paul Jones Jul 13, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    You know who else bears responsibility? Those killed and others out the watching the event. They were all involved.

    But I personally think it's insane to blame one person or to blame everyone. I think death and having to live with that is enough of a punishment for the group.

  • Rhonda Arthur Jul 13, 2015
    user avatar

    Hope they find the other driver. He bears some responsibility for the deaths also. Can't believe a grown man was street racing. Prayers for the families of the victims.