Raleigh, N.C. — A Raleigh man facing life in prison for the death of a Domino's assistant manager lied to investigators about where he was the night of the crime and tried to get an ex-girlfriend to lie for him, prosecutors said during opening statements of his murder trial Wednesday.
Travis Melton Sherman, 22, is one of two men charged with first-degree murder in the death of Kenneth Edward "Kenny" Ring, 23, who was closing the Knightdale pizza store when he was beaten to death on Jan. 9, 2010.
Ring died two days later as a result of blunt force injury to the head.
Sherman's friend, Nicho D'Angelo Bowers, who was a Domino's driver, is also charged with murder in the case. Prosecutors say that the two lived together with Bowers' mother and considered themselves brothers.
Wake County Assistant District Attorney Doug Faucette told jurors that Sherman robbed Domino's, stealing more than $1,000, and attacked Ring while Bowers was making the last delivery of the night.
When Bowers returned, he called 911, reporting that Ring had been attacked.
Cellphone records, Faucette said, showed Bowers and Sherman had "a curious amount of back and forth call activity" during the time in question and that GPS records showed Sherman had been in the area of the Domino's at the time of the attack.
Sherman, however, told police, that his ex-girlfriend, Anna Painter, had picked him up from the shopping center and that he was with her.
Painter told police that she was with her new boyfriend at the time and that Sherman contacted her and asked that she back his story.
"He repeatedly encouraged her to stick to the story and provide for him a false timeline," Faucette told jurors.
Sherman later admitted to police that Ring was complicit in the robbery and that they had planned for him to be knocked in the head.
Faucette said Sherman told investigators that he acted as a lookout while another man, Christopher Thomas, robbed the store and attacked Ring with an aluminum baseball bat.
Thomas was also charged in the case, but investigators eventually dropped the charges after three people accounted for his alibi.
Other witnesses, including Bowers' mother, Tracie Whitehouse, told police that Sherman confessed to her, months after Ring's death, that he hit Ring and that "Kenny was still sitting up when Travis left," Faucette said.
Another man, Timmy Crandell, told police that he traded notes in jail with Sherman in 2010 that "ultimately will reveal that Travis, alone, entered the Domino's that night with the baseball bat and that that no one else was actually there," Faucette said.
Sherman's defense attorney, Dan Dolan, told jurors that Knightdale police – initially investigating only a robbery – had a number of "missteps" in their probe of the town's first homicide.
"The investigation was not perfect," he said.
Crime scene evidence was contaminated, and videos of police interviews were faulty, he said. Neither Sherman's DNA nor fingerprints were found at the scene, and investigators ignored a tire iron found near Ring's body.
"This tire iron lay next to him, but law enforcement didn't think it was important to take that back with them," Dolan said.
Investigators were also never able to find a murder weapon.
"You will not hear that a bat was found, ever tested or ever determined to be the weapon in this case," Dolan said. "There is no murder weapon to be presented, to my knowledge, in the case."
Also, witnesses, including Crandell, are not credible, Dolan said.
"More than one witness has been promised that they will not be prosecuted for criminal offenses if they provide information to the prosecution to further their investigation of this case," he said.
Whitehouse also isn't credible, Dolan added.
"Tracie Whitehouse has an unparalleled love for her son, Nicho Bowers," he said. "She allowed Travis to stay in her house, despite the fact that she's alleging that Travis has admitted to committing a murder."