Local News

Friends Of Teen Charged With Deputy's Shooting Testify In Court

Posted November 8, 2004

— Testimony at the trial of a teenager who admits he shot and killed a Wake County deputy turned to what he told friends afterward. Prosecutors hope the testimony shows the shooting was not an accident.

Matthew Grant is on trial for the killing of Wake County deputy Mark Tucker in February. Two of Grant's friends -- Justin Franke and Lawson Rankin -- testified Monday that Grant confessed to the killing. They said Grant did not appear nervous and they did not believe him until they heard about the murder on the news.

"His exact words were, 'I blew his head off,'" Franke said.

When asked what Grant said about why he fired the gun, Franke replied, "He said he got scared and didn't want to go back to jail."

Both Franke and Rankin, who are charged as accesories to murder after the fact, admitted to hiding the murder weapon for Grant. Rankin said Grant gave them specific instructions about hiding the weapons.

"So, it was kind of a way of letting him know that I was a friend, at the same time, helping a friend out," he said.

Franke and Rankin said the prosecution has not offered them a deal in exchange for their testimony, but they are hoping to get leniency for their cooperation.

Chief state medical examiner John Butts also took the stand Monday, testifying that Tucker died from a shotgun blast to the face at close range.

Another witness for the prosecution, Van McQueen, told jurors that he had purchased the gun for Grant used to shoot Tucker.

"I asked Matthew Grant which one did he want and he said, just get whatever you can get for $120, so I just picked up the cheapest one I could get," he said.

McQueen testified in return for buying the gun, he received a can of beer. He said Grant wanted the gun because he was planning to use it for an armed robbery.

Emotions flared Friday between members of Tucker's family and Grant after graphic evidence was shown in the trial. The outbursts came outside the presence of the jury, but on Monday, Judge Donald Stephens said he did not want to take any chances of it happening in front of jurors.

"I would hate for someone to do or say anything inappropriate that, in some way, adversely affects this case, so please be careful about that. If you can't do that, you need to not be here," he said.

Testimony is expected to continue on Tuesday.

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