Local News

Testimony Ends in Golphin Brothers' Trial

Posted April 26, 1998

— Arguments on the last day in the Golphin brothers' murder trial focused on the effects of pepper spray. The teen-age brothers are charged in the deaths of two law enforcement officers last September.

Tilmon and Kevin Golphin are accused of killing Highway Patrol Trooper Ed Lowry and Cumberland County sheriff's Deputy David Hathcock during a traffic stop on Interstate 95. The state is seeking the death penalty. Closing arguments are scheduled to begin Tuesday.

Defense attorneys are arguing that Lowry's use of the spray caused Kevin Golphin to become enraged and start shooting.

To counter that point, the prosecution staged a demonstration in the courtroom, using two troopers. Raymond Battle was sprayed on the side of the face and the ear, as Kevin Golphin had been. That trooper reported he felt no effect.

Curtis Toler was sprayed in the eyes with pepper spray. He said there was a burning sensation in his eyes.

A third trooper, First Sgt. George Williamson, a State Highway Patrol training officer, said pepper spray can make some suspects more violent.

Detectives testified that Tilmon Golphin admitted shooting the officers with an SKS rifle during a struggle, and Kevin Golphin said he shot Lowry again with the trooper's own pistol.

Williamson said pepper spray is intended to be a non-lethal weapon. But he admitted under cross-examination that suspects are not always easier to subdue after they are sprayed.

``It can go either way,'' he said.

Last Friday, defense attorneys staged an outdoor demonstration for jurors on how police use pepper spray.

Tilmon Golphin's lawyer, Jim Parish, objected to today's demonstration. He said he did not want jurors to see law enforcement officers in pain.

``It shows what people are willing to do because a trooper's been killed and because a sheriff's deputy's been killed,'' he said. ``This goes beyond a mere demonstration because he's got people who are willing to suffer pain.''

Closing arguments will begin Tuesday morning. The jury could get the case by Wednesday.

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