FAYETTEVILLE — The trial is now under way in one of the most notorious murder cases in Cumberland County history. It is a trial that focuses on two murders which police say were part of a gang initiation.
Eric Devon Queen and Francisco Tirado are both charged with abducting and murdering two Cumberland County women as part of an initiation into the Crips gang.
Tracy Lambert and Susan Moore were murdered, and a third victim, Debra Cheeseborough, was abducted and shot but survived. Police have said the women were chosen at random.
The acts of alleged gang violence that surround this case sent shockwaves throughout the community. Because of its high-profile nature, jury selection, which began Monday, is expected to take the rest of the month; the trial itself could take up to 10 weeks.
Judge William Gore, Jr. started court Monday morning by chastising defense attorneys for not turning in pretrial motions. It is a first sign Gore will be running a strict courtroom.
Security will also be strict. Extra deputies are on guard, and no handbags or briefcases are allowed in the courtroom. Attorneys even argued over whether one of the defendants could use a pen or pencil.
The state thought a sharp instrument would be a security risk, but judge Gore later ruled Francisco Tirado can take notes, but only in the courtroom.
Bullets used to shoot each woman in the head were painted with blue nail polish, said to be the gang's signature color.
Some people who came to the trial as observers said they were concerned about the possibility of retribution if they said anything publicly, since alleged gang members are still on the streets.
Queen and Tirado are also charged with various other crimes, including the attempted murder of Cheeseborough. She is expected to testify in this trial.
If convicted, both suspects could be sentenced to death.
The Fayetteville Police Department has a special unit to investigate gang activity. They handle cases involving street gangs, motorcycle gangs and cult crimes, and have found that children as young as 10 years of age can be associated with gangs.
Det. David Dowless of the Fayetteville Police Gang Unit says more than 100 people in Cumberland County are gang members.