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Fourth murder charge filed in street-racing crash

Posted July 14, 2015

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— Authorities on Tuesday filed a fourth second-degree murder charge against a Zebulon man in connection with a fatal crash late Sunday during what investigators say was an illegal street race.

Jimmy Pearce, 37, of 11557D N.C. Highway 39, also faces two charges of assault with a deadly weapon, which seriously injured three people.

According to State Highway Patrol investigators and witnesses, Pearce was racing his 1989 Ford Mustang against another vehicle on Simon Road, near Middlesex, when he lost control near Buckhorn Drive and veered into a crowd of more than a dozen spectators.

Authorities are still searching for the other driver in the street race. That person, who witnesses said was traveling in the wrong lane at the time of the crash, fled the scene.

"We have no description at this point. We do believe there were people on the scene who know who this individual is," Highway Patrol Sgt. Michael Baker said. "We're asking anybody in the general public who was not involved – or even was involved – to assist us in our investigation."

Carlton Ray Brooks, 42, Undra Montrell Taybron, 40, Garland Earp, 39, and Arrington Earp, 23, were killed in the crash. Larry Deans, Roncellis Marshall and Ida Mae Rapa were injured and remain hospitalized at WakeMed in Raleigh. Rapa was listed in critical condition Tuesday, while Marshall was in fair condition and Deans was in good condition.

Pearce's car came to a stop after hitting a tree, and he suffered minor injuries, investigators said. He is being held under a $1 million bond in the Johnston County jail.

Accident reconstruction experts from the Highway Patrol are still trying to piece together what happened, and Baker said they could have some preliminary findings later this week, although a final report is likely more than a month off.

"The investigators involved do not believe this is a car club – some type of organized unit that travels across the state and participates in these spontaneous or prearranged speed competitions," Baker said. "We do believe this was a limited instance where something just went very wrong."

Anyone who can identify the second driver or the car in the race is asked to call the Highway Patrol at 800-662-7956.


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  • Gen Lee Jul 15, 2015
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    They will probably plea it down to manslaughter or something similar.

  • Marc Trellis Jul 14, 2015
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    It doesn't stem from the car itself, but how the car is used. Cars being driven normally are not considered deadly weapons. That's also why Pearce is being charged with murder as opposed to manslaughter. When someone dies as a result of extreme recklessness or indifference to life, it's classified as 'depraved-heart' murder and carries heavier sentences than involuntary manslaughter (unintentional killing resulting from criminal negligence).

  • John Jones Jul 14, 2015
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    It's hard to believe the driver of the mustang and the spectators doesn't know who the other driver is.

  • Roy Hinkley Jul 14, 2015
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    This isn't new.
    People who used cars in certain reckless ways have been charged similarly in the past. My understanding is that it gets to the notion that a car is just a car, until you decide to misuse it so recklessly that it becomes something dangerous and causes harm to others.

  • Chris VanderHaven Jul 14, 2015
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    'Assault with a Deadly Weapon'? If they define a car as a deadly weapon, a whole lot of other laws are going to have to change.