Local News

Opening statements in Pittman trial begin Tuesday

Posted September 26, 2011
Updated September 29, 2011

— The trial for a Rocky Mount man accused of a 2009 murder begins today in Windsor. Opening statements are expected to begin Tuesday. in the case of Antwan Maurice Pittman.

Pittman, 33, is charged with one murder -- the 2009 death of Taraha Shenice Nicholson. But he is linked to the deaths of at least seven other women, and authorities have said they think he is a serial killer.

Pittman's trial began Monday in Bertie County, where it was moved from Edgecombe County because of the publicity the cases have received. Attorneys quickly selected 12 jurors and two alternates Monday. 

That publicity played out Monday during jury selection. District Attorney Robert Evans asked each of the first four potential jurors what they knew about the case, and dismissed one potential juror who said she had seen coverage about "the murders."  Evans then reminded the rest of the pool that Pittman is only charged in one murder.

Family and friends of the seven other women who have bonded over their shared loss were among those in the gallery as the jurors were chosen. 

Rocky Mount murder trial moved to Bertie County Rocky Mount murder trial moved to Bertie County

Nicholson, 28, disappeared in February 2009. Her remains were found in a wooded area near Seven Bridges Road in rural Edgecombe County on March 7, 2009. An autopsy determined that she had been strangled.

Over the course of five years, eight black women were reported missing from Rocky Mount, and their remains were later found in rural areas outside the city.

One woman who fits the profile, Joyce Renee Durham, 47, was last seen in June 2007 and is still missing.

Prosecutors told the court they plan to call law enforcement agents, forensic pathologists, Pittman's mother and girlfriend and Nicholson's mother in the arguing their case. They warned jurors that they would see graphic images and hear discussion of prostitution, but that they must be able to weigh evidence without being swayed by emotion.

Nicholson and the other women have been linked to prostitution and drug use.


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  • penelope1 Sep 27, 2011

    Yes I'm having trouble with sound and viewing.

  • rickandlinda88 Sep 27, 2011

    please..move on..this whole mess has been strung out way too long.prayers to all families who lost loved ones.however;that being said.people make their own choices in life.some are very risky.predators are everywhere.waiting to pounce.this is a very sick person.make sure he never leaves prison.and please to all women who make such bad decisions with their lives..stop..stop..it's not worth dying for.go get help..before it is too late.

  • OneLove Sep 27, 2011

    Turn up the courtroom video!! please!!

  • sidecutter Sep 27, 2011

    WRAL. Please remove this from the top of the news page and take the picture away! It serves no purpose to sensationalize this person's deeds. It gives him undo power.

  • OneLove Sep 27, 2011

    anybody trying to watch/listen to the trial? anyone having volume issues?

  • tigresspen Sep 27, 2011

    @Statick, I, too, get frustrated when people attack the victims. I agree with you.

  • tigresspen Sep 27, 2011

    @skinnygranny, I did say, after reading the archives here on wral on this case, I think he is guilty just as others here did. However, that doesn't mean he is actually guilty or that at the closing of the state's CIC that feeling will remain. A person no matter the thoughts of nonjurors is innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt in the eyes of the law.

  • Statick Sep 27, 2011

    Wow. I'm just amazed at some of the comments made by you heartless individuals, bravely talking smack behind your anonymous keyboards about some brutally murdered women who you don't know nor ever would have attempted to know. I sincerely hope that karma doesn't affect your meager little existences in that you'll never, ever, have to deal with the pain of some psycho taking a loved one from you.

    Shame on you.

  • skinnygranny Sep 26, 2011

    "I've been reading all those comments on WRALTV. We've decided he's GUILTY!"

    Thank you. You're excused from jury service. :)

  • RM24 Sep 26, 2011

    So how are these murdered prostitutes and drug addicts different? Didn't they make poor choices and go to dangerous areas? Saberage

    I understand what your asking better now. No difference in the people or one being better or more deserving than the other. The difference to me is the level of safety between rocky mount NC and the IRAQ/IRAN border. Now if your assuming that the Iraq/Iran border is as safe as Rocky Mount then you have a valid point. But I don't think Rocky Mt is that dangerous, "yet"!