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Probation officials: Murder suspects tracked properly

Posted December 22, 2008
Updated March 9, 2009

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— A state probation official said Monday afterbiib that they four men charged in the shooting death of a Raleigh man were being tracked properly at the time of the crime they are accused of. One was listed as an absconder, and a second's probation had been revoked.

Michael Howard Palmer, a cab driver for AAA Cabs, was killed the night of Dec. 15 during what police said was a robbery attempt at Quail Ridge Apartments on Falls of Neuse Road.

Alexander Gonzales Suspects in cab driver's slaying have criminal history

Investigators have charged the four men with second-degree murder in the 59-year-old's death.

"There's protocol that says how you (review these cases) and what you do when you find things wrong," said Robert Guy, director of the state Division of Community Corrections, which oversees the probation system.

"I'll be looking at those," he continued.

According to Department of Correction records, one of the suspects, Alexander Hakeen Gonzales, 19, of 3020-9 Spanish Court, had been on 36 months' probation since last November for robbery and had violated probation when he tested positive for marijuana and when he missed curfew.

He had been listed as an absconder since June for not checking in with his probation officer. A warrant was issued for his arrest in September.

Two others, Eugene Dumas, 19, of 211 Shelden Drive, and Jayshon Najee Norment, 19, of 925-C Heathridge Court, had been on probation since April for felony breaking-and-entering in 2007.

Dumas was also convicted in October of second-degree trespassing. He was in court the day after Palmer was killed for violating probation. That hearing was continued to January.

Norment was on probation for a second breaking-and-entering case, one in which he stole a 12-gauge shotgun.

A fourth suspect, Xavia Monqual Barnes, 17, also of 3020-9 Spanish Court, had also been on probation after a March conviction for driving while impaired and for credit card theft.

Barnes' probation, however, was revoked in August when he "failed and refused" to contact his probation officer, despite numerous letters and visits since May 2008.

Dumas, Barnes and Gonzales were already in the Wake County jail on second-degree burglary charges when police identified them as suspects in Palmer's death. Officers had arrested the three on Thursday in connection with a home break-in.

All four suspects were being held in the Wake County jail without bond Monday afternoon.

Search warrants indicate that police believe Gonzales was the shooter.

“It’s a sad story – to hear that these are kids, basically. They’re teenagers, 19, 17 years old,” said Palmer's cousin, Henri Glover.

At the same time that police were assembling the quartet's history Monday, Palmer's family and friends gathered at C. A. Haywood Sr. Memorial Chapel at the Haywood Funeral Home in Raleigh to remember him. He had worked as a cab driver for most of his life, starting with AAA two months ago.

"He enjoyed meeting people, talking to people, listening to their stories," Glover, said.

Police said Palmer made his last pickup at the Greyound Bus station in downtown Raleigh on the night of Dec. 15 and dropped his fare off at Quail Ridge shortly before 11 p.m.

Investigators said they still want to talk to a woman whom they say Palmer transported during that trip.

"We just basically did not understand what had happened. What occurred? Why?" Palmer's daughter, Vonise Palmer, said.

“We want the whole truth, so if anyone else knows anything else, we want people to still come forward," she continued.

Police have set up an anonymous tip line for the case at 919-227-6220.

Palmer, a graduate of J. W. Ligon High School in Raleigh, is survived by his daughter, former wife, siblings and a cousin.

A memorial fund has been set up for Palmer's family. Donations and contributions can be made to The Michael Palmer Fund at any Wachovia Bank in North Carolina.

72 Comments

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  • whatusay Dec 22, 2008

    The probation officr is correct..there is no way to stop people on probation from killing and robbing. We do not need more probation employees...throwing more employees and more tax dollars will not stop future murders. But, if a criminal is behind bars for his complete sentence that murder could be prevented. Eliminate the probation department completely, it doesn't work and never will.

  • I Luv Cheese Dec 22, 2008

    DOC is a joke. I have personally applied for a position with Probation/Parole at least FIVE times in the past year. I am over-qualified and I can't even get an interview. They continue to hire people they know or that have some type of inside connection to the agency. I will no longer apply to this agency because I do not want to work for a agency that can not even give me a call back or an interview but tells the media they are short officers.

  • GWALLY Dec 22, 2008

    How many good, innocent people will have to die at the hands of these convicted criminals on "probation" BEFORE the system in NC will be looked at as a TOTAL FAILURE....???? If even 1 person was to die as a result of E.coli from food eaten at a local restaurant or from a local food supplier you people would be screaming BLOODY MURDER.....yet these people are free on YOUR streets!!!!

  • WRALblows Dec 22, 2008

    In NC a convicted felon cannot sit for the bar exam. Some misdemeanors convictions are also grounds for refusal but that is a call made by the State Bar with regards to a review of "good moral character".

  • james27613 Dec 22, 2008

    hi C,
    question, is a convict not allowed to take the exam or are the chances of them being admitted to the Bar slim and none ?

    other states like NY and NJ do not prevent a convict from
    taking the Bar exam.

  • james27613 Dec 22, 2008

    Humble has got it right 100%

    These are the type of cowards that shoot unarmed, innocent children, adults and elderly

    Like the trash that used a shotgun on the UNC student
    and was stupid enough to use the atm card.

  • WRALblows Dec 22, 2008

    "How many will hire a lawyer who got his or her degree when in prison?"

    You can't. While they can get a law degree and possibly even work in a law firm they cannot take the State Bar exam.

  • james27613 Dec 22, 2008

    We can fix this problem fast with law changes and eliminate probation for ANYONE who used a firearm in a crime. No exceptions.

    You use firearm(s) in a crime, you get 12 years solid time,
    no easy out release, no credit for time served, no nothing but
    12 years of your life.

    For those that are not using firearms and have clean record
    prior to their conviction(s), then they get JAIL TIME in the
    new tent city jail system built out in the country,
    off the shelf video and security systems.

    Attach tracker collars to all the convicts in the tent city,
    tell them if one escapes, the explosive in the collar will blow their head clean off.

    any questions ?

  • WRALblows Dec 22, 2008

    "Dumas was also convicted in October for trespassing and was scheduled to be in court the week Palmer was killed for violating probation."

    This is exactly what I meant in a previous post. If the probation revocation had been enforced immediately at the time of his second conviction he would not have been out to participate in this murder. He "was scheduled to be in court" for violating probation. It shouldn't take a second appearance.

  • james27613 Dec 22, 2008

    The Two top men at DOC must RESIGN NOW.

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