Hillsborough, N.C. — A Durham man charged with killing his pregnant girlfriend had threatened the woman after learning she was pregnant, the woman's mother said.
Kenneth Earl White, 39, of 4020 Sudbury Road, was arrested Friday after the body of 21-year-old Ebony Chatell Robinson was found along a dirt road not far from the Durham County line. He was ordered held without bond at the Orange County Jail in a brief court appearance Monday morning.
A witness called 911 after she heard shots fired around 11 a.m. Friday on Wrenn Road, a dead-end road that leads to a mobile-home park off University Station Road.
Robinson was shot three times in the chest, according to her mother, Effie Steele.
A star athlete at Durham School of the Arts and a former North Carolina Central University student, Robinson was expecting a boy in January, Steele said.
Steele told Orange County Sheriff's Department investigators that her daughter and White, who lived on the same block, had an ongoing relationship and that White had threatened Robinson when he found out she was pregnant.
"I have a gun. You've seen it and know what I will do," White said to Robinson, according to Steele.
Deputies seized boxes of bullets and baby items – a stroller and a swing with Robinson's name on it – from White's home, according to a search warrant.
"It's a shocker. It's a shocker," Robinson's high school track coach, Dexter Mitchell, said. "She was very high-spirited. She'd nag you, but you couldn't help but love her."
Robinson's nickname in high school was "Smiley," he said.
Steele broke down in tears following White's court appearance. She said there would be two caskets at Robinson's funeral, which is scheduled for noon Tuesday at Mouth Zion Christian Church in Durham.
Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall said he can't charge White with the death of Robinson's unborn child, but he said the fetal death would play a role in how the case proceeds.
"I think it could have a bearing," Woodall said.
White, a utility worker employed by Duke University, is scheduled to return to court on Jan. 3.