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Jurors Deliberate Fate Of Shooter In Retired Teacher's Slaying

Posted November 13, 2006

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— Jurors deliberated for about two hours Monday in the murder trial of a man who has admitted to killing a retired Raleigh teacher last year.

Shirley Newkirk, 63, was shot to death in the driveway of her southeast Raleigh home in April 2005 as she prepared for a morning walk.

Police point to Ezavia Allen, 20, as the triggerman, saying he and he and two others had been on a crime spree and wanted to rob Newkirk.

"The evidence is overwhelming that he is guilty of first-degree felony murder," Assistant District Attorney Jeff Cruden said in his closing argument. "He turned (and) held the clip in before he fired the gun."

Although Newkirk was shot from less than 5 feet away, Allen's attorneys have maintained that the shooting was an accident. Allen was aiming at a rearview mirror and not the teacher, the attorneys told jurors, calling the shooting a reflex reaction when Newkirk blew her car horn.

"It's uncontradicted that (Allen) was turning away from the car, the horn blew, he spun in a circle and fired," defense attorney Barry Winston said in his closing argument.

In hopes of being convicted of second-degree murder and avoiding the death penalty, Allen, who appeared to be sleeping during part of Monday morning's proceedings, admitted last month to shooting Newkirk.

A first-degree murder conviction could mean a death sentence of life in prison without parole . A conviction on a second-degree murder charge would mean Allen could be sentenced to no more than 40 years in prison.

Allen also faces several charges in connection with a series of robberies before Newkirk's slaying. If he is convicted on all counts, the maximum sentence would be 100 years in prison.

Jurors went home shortly after 5 p.m. Monday and were expected to resume deliberations Tuesday morning.

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