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Raleigh Police Probe City's First 3 Homicides of '08

Posted January 10, 2008
Updated January 12, 2008

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— Raleigh police made an arrest in the city's third homicide early Friday morning.

Shortly before 1 a.m., police announced the arrest of Joel Mica Barnes, 20, in the death of Phillip Michael Hart, 21. No address for Barnes was given.

Hart was still alive when he was found outside a home on Damon Court on Wednesday evening, but he later died at WakeMed. A state medical examiner determined on Thursday that foul play was involved. Police have not released the cause of death.

Earlier, residents in the Damon Court area said that the homicide had unnerved them.

"We saw the police pull up, and we still wondered what was going on but didn't have a clue," neighbor Ursula Banks said. "It's kind of bad ... when you just kind of don't feel safe."

For Raleigh to see its third homicide so early in the year is uncommon, police said. In 2007, Raleigh did not reach three until Feb. 22.

"It is somewhat unusual that we would have three murders in that time span," Raleigh police spokesman Jim Sughrue said. "But murders don't really follow any kind of pattern."

Raleigh still statistically has a low murder rate – roughly six homicides for every 100,000 people. There were 22 homicides in Raleigh in 2007, up from 19 in 2006.

"We might go weeks or even months without having a murder, based on our past experience," Sughrue said. "So it's really impossible to read anything into the fact that we've had three in such a short period of time."

Five males suspects have been charged in the death of Felipe Montalvo-Montalvo, 32, whose body was found in the 4200 block of Bland Street on the morning of Jan. 6. Investigators have not said how the victim died or if his death was gang-related.

Derrick Dangelo Swinson, 23, was found suffering from gunshot wounds behind a house in the 1300 block of Walnut Street on the evening of Jan. 8. Swinson later died at WakeMed. Police have not named any suspects in his death.

Although Barnes was being held in jail without bond, investigators also continued to search for evidence in the Hart's death.

"The detectives are learning more all the time," Sughrue said. "But in the best interests of the investigation, we have to safeguard the information for right now."

Anyone with information that might assist detectives is asked to call Raleigh police at 919-890-3555 or CrimeStoppers at 919-226-CRIME.


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  • downtownbrown Jan 13, 2008

    "What if he is autistic? What if it went undetected because he's a sullen young black man? I sure hope it was in self-defense."

    Haha. What kind of analysis is that?

  • teach Jan 12, 2008

    Look at that young man's face. Do you see an incredibly lifelong sadness there? Not remorse. Not even recognition. I doubt he even knows what he's done. Pathetic. That's all I can say.

  • teach Jan 12, 2008

    Both the victim and the alleged killer are so young. What's being done to intervene before they get to this point? What kind of anger management is out there? What kind of mentoring? What kind of community action? Or do we just wait until something like this happens and then kick their heads in? Are we so inhumane that we breed such inhumanity in our youth? This alleged killer does not look like a kid from the projects. He looks quite middle class. Well fed, but maybe a bit autistic. Those eyes do not look like he is trying to squint. He looks like he has trouble looking anyone in the eye, any time. Now he has to look himself in the face. What if he is autistic? What if it went undetected because he's a sullen young black man? I sure hope it was in self-defense.

  • Nancy Jan 11, 2008

    "How about the many many many times white people have been arrested and charged with crimes...especially pedophilia? So black people like to kill and the whites one play with little boys?"

    Have you bothered to look at the statistics?

    Here you go:


  • Tired Of Excuses Jan 11, 2008

    Crime comes with growth. We'd better get our heads out of the sand and know what's going on around us. Know who your neighbors are, know who the teens are that your kids hang out with. Know their parents. Encourage your children to get an education and discourage them from getting caught up in things that may ruin their chances of having a decent life. Report suspricious activity, no matter how unimportant you think it may be. Better to say something than wish you had after the fact and above all, have a way to protect yourself to minimize your chances of becomming a victim.

  • DJ of Clayton Jan 11, 2008

    I see there is no mention in the news about the death threats EMS got for not entering the seen on Walnut Street with out police back up.

  • whatevah Jan 11, 2008

    I find it funny that everytime a black person is arrested for something the comments become racial. How about the many many many times white people have been arrested and charged with crimes...especially pedophilia? So black people like to kill and the whites one play with little boys?

  • WilloWSnapper Jan 11, 2008

    has anyone ever watched that show the first 48. I am appalled that 99 percent of the suspects and killers are african american and for stupid garbage. The other night one killed another for some xanax and another for a cheap gold necklace

  • Titus Pullo Jan 11, 2008

    "Has anyone else noticed that murderers havae been young people? It's scary to think that these people have no values and morals and will be the ones taking care of us older people later on in life. I hate to even think about it."

    Public education. As long as these people feel good about themselves is is okay to do whatever they want. It is all about self-esteem.

  • casp3r Jan 11, 2008

    Name calling at it's best.. lol Wow, what an example of how you should post and voice your opinion.