Local News

Selma Man Won't Face Charges in Pinned-Intruder Case

Posted December 10, 2007
Updated December 11, 2007

— A Selma man who said he accidentally killed an intruder who was on his property won't face charges, according to court documents and the Johnston County district attorney.

The grand jury returned a "not a true presentment" of involuntary manslaughter in the case of John Reid, who said he was trying to block two men from leaving his property on Nov. 8, when he accidentally hit the gas pedal of his pickup truck.

Authorities said Reid's pickup struck the intruders' car, which pinned Cornelius Brown between it and a fence. Brown died the next day at a hospital.

A presentment directs the district attorney whether to investigate the allegations in the case and then submit a bill of indictment to the grand jury. Because the grand jury returned a "not a true presentment," there will be no bill of indictment, Johnston County District Attorney Susan Doyle said.

"I appreciate the grand jury's careful consideration and respect their decision in this case," Doyle said.

Doyle said last month that she was turning the case over to the grand jury because of the unusual facts and complex legal issues associated with it.

Reid had no comment Monday on the grand jury's decision.

Brown's sister, Nannette Brown, however, said she and her family were upset and disappointed that Reid would not face charges.

“This man literally crushed my brother to death with his truck,” Brown said, adding she does not believe the grand jury heard all the facts in the case.

“If there was such thing as a robbery, does the law give you the right to take the law into your own hands and run a person down and murder them with your vehicle?" she asked. "A person with no weapon, [when] your life is not threatened – you cannot do that.”

Reid said his property had been burglarized several times in recent months. Investigators found a piece of machinery belonging to Reid into the back of the suspects' car.

Another man, Mark Ray McNair, 46, of Dudley, was charged with trespassing and larceny in connection with the incident.


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  • jackadoo Dec 11, 2007

    Sumo....I agree, simple is better. It is one of my daily decision tools. Folks, you would be surprised how much this concept can change your life.

  • jackadoo Dec 11, 2007

    wanda...you rock. The criminals are not the victims.

  • jackadoo Dec 11, 2007

    double trouble and wanda...you rock. Please keep up your sense of sanity.

  • Sumo Vita Dec 11, 2007

    "Perhaps if a not quite 16-year-old Mr. Brown had received the kind of boys-will-be-boys sentencing afforded an 18-year-old Mr. Reid [...] Mr. Brown could have repaid his debt to society and made something of himself instead of being a habitual felon"

    Alas, writer. Your nuance is hopelessly lost in our simplistic little world of good guys and bad guys. Why bother with contributory factors or ameliorating circumstances? Think simple: it will let you stifle your conscience and sleep better at night.

  • give me no quarter Dec 11, 2007

    When you make your living stealing from folks, you know you've got a dangerous job. Each day that you leave for work you know you could be killed. This man picked a bad job location resulting in his death. As for the baiting by WXYZ and one other on this entire post, well, LOL. As for the wrongful death suit, I don't think there's a jury in this entire State that would award this man's family any money. You see, hard working people, black, white, green and yellow are sick of being robbed of what they had to pay for. Don't think anything will change as far crime goes but I know one who won't steal tonight.

  • NCMOMof3 Dec 11, 2007

    while we are quoting scripture, here is one of my favorites that pretty much sums up the entire deal. You reap what you sow. This man lived a life of crime. I'm sorry that his family has to deal with his death. I'm even sorrier that his family had to deal with with his life because it would break my heart for one of my siblings to chose to live like this man chose to live. I hope that the civil courts are as reasonable as the criminal courts and throw this case out before it even gets started.

  • afictionalwriter Dec 11, 2007

    Perhaps if a not quite 16-year-old Mr. Brown had received the kind of boys-will-be-boys sentencing afforded an 18-year-old Mr. Reid (suspended sentence with probation/parole and misdemeanor breaking and entering) instead of 10 months active prison and a felony for receiving stolen goods, Mr. Brown could have repaid his debt to society and made something of himself instead of being a habitual felon. [facts from the NC DOC records available online]

  • doubletrouble Dec 11, 2007

    Wrongful Death...Please. It's unfortunate how things turned out for her brother-and sure her heart is saddened. I would be the same way if my brother, son, or parent was killed while they were commiting a ROBBERY--but that still doesn't take away from the point of what happened, and WHY it happened. The Brown family should bury their brother, grieve his loss,learn his lesson,...and teach the children in the family that nothing is free, you WORK for what U want and need- and taking the wrong road can cause you to lose your life, over something as simple as a leafblower. He was a thief, probably a career thief..teach your children that, about their Uncle, and the ultimate price he paid, due to his own stupidity-and the life of crime "he" chose. I feel for the family, but to cry it was "wrongful"..is more that I can bear.

  • CantTrustV Dec 11, 2007

    mvnull you are right. OJ got away with murder why shouldnt someone else?

  • mvnull Dec 11, 2007

    "Mr. Reid seems to have been trying to block the escape of the thiefs... " If you believe Mr. Reid was trying to block the escape, you are naive. I suspect his rage at catching the thieves overcame him and he did exactly what he wanted to do.

    That being said, the system has decided to let it go & I'll go along with it. Lots of people get away with murder, and his is among the least of those cases.