RALEIGH, N.C. — The trial of a local teenager started in a Wake County courtroom Monday with a surprise admission.
Matthew Grant, 19, of Apex is accused of killing Wake County Deputy Mark Tucker, 49. The crime occurred in February, in a field across from Tucker's home on Holly Springs Road.
Jury selection got under way Monday, but Grant's attorneys entered what is called a Harbison motion, admitting their client shot and killed Tucker. However, they claim his crime should be considered second-degree murder, not first-degree murder.
Attorneys plan to show that Grant did not show any premediation about the crime.
"While the defense is fairly competent, I think it's real clear they're throwing up a lot of smokescreens," said Tommy Tucker, brother of the victim.
"We're completely devastated by this. We are devastated about what happened to two families -- the Tucker family and our family," said Gail Grant, Matthew's grandmother.
Gail Grant said she adopted Matthew and raised him as her own child.
"We're behind Matt. Matt's our son. We love him. We love him unconditionally. We're going to be here for him," she said.
"I hate it for them because I truly believe they are good people," said Pat Tucker, Mark Tucker's widow.
Pat Tucker will not be in the courtroom because she doesn't want to re-live her husband's death. She said she will be content with whatever the verdict is.
"It's not going to bring Mark back. Regardless of what the outcome is, it's not going to change the fact that my husband is now dead," she said.
It will be up to the judge to determine whether Grant will face first- or second-degree murder.
In a confession letter, Grant wrote he had no intention of using his gun on another person. The defense argued the evidence should not be admissible because of how it was collected. A judge ruled it could be used.
"This will certainly give the jury a better opportunity to determine what the truth is," Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby said.
In another letter to his parents, Grant writes he deserves everything he has coming to him. If convicted, that could be the death penalty.
"It was very well written," said Dan Tucker, the victim's brother. "It felt like it was from the heart. I had a little compassion for him after reading it, but I had to step back and say, 'What did the guy really do and think about that again before I let it get to my heart.'"
The jury selection process is expected to take about two weeks. The trial is expected to last about three weeks.