RALEIGH, N.C. — A man accused of a triple murder in Orange County may be headed to death row.
Alan Douglas Gates, 50, has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of his daughter Valerie Michelle Gates, 24; Cordae Shimara Lee, 21; and Lee's 2-year-old son, Kendall Alexander Dianis.
In May, Alan Gates was charged with assault for beating Valerie Gates. On June 11, Janet Clark Gates secured a domestic violence restraining order against her ex-husband. Authorities said Monday evening, Janet Gates had reason to think her ex-husband was violating the order and was at the home.
Janet Gates called sheriff's deputies to escort her to the family home. When they arrived, they found Alan Gates in the bed with a revolver. As the deputies handcuffed Alan Gates, authorities said Janet Gates discovered the bodies in a back bedroom.
Orange County District Attorney Carl Fox said the circumstances of the case may force him to seek the death penalty.
"If it is outside the norm of any situation to have more than two people killed in a single episode, where it is not a serial killing," he said.
Friends and family members continue going to the house where the murders took place to pay their respects.
"Val was the kindest person and sweetest person you would ever want to know. Her mother is so kind. We are all going to miss her very much," said family friend Fran Bielby. "I feel for her mother. I pray. It's just a terrible, terrible, terrible thing to happen."
Fox also said he would not be surprised if defense attorneys use Alan Gates' mental condition as part of his case. He was already scheduled to be in court in August to show a judge he had complied with orders to seek mental health and substance abuse treatment.
Alan Gates' first appearance in court is up in the air for now. He is in Raleigh's Central Prison under suicide watch after he rammed his head into steel bars in the Orange County jail.
Surprisingly in North Carolina, you are more likely to be killed by a stranger than someone who knows you.
Last year, there were 752 murder arrests in North Carolina. In 497 of those, the suspect was either a stranger or police could not link the suspect with the victim. Ninety-seven suspects were immediate family to the victim.