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Ex-pastor convicted in NCCU student's slaying

Posted October 9, 2009

— A jury found a former pastor guilty Friday of the first-degree murder of North Carolina Central University student Latrese Curtis last year. He faces a sentence of life in prison.

Verdict read in case of NCCU student's murder Verdict read in case of NCCU student's murder

Prosecutors argued during the nearly two-week trial that Robert Reaves killed Curtis in a jealous rage on Jan. 29, 2008, because he considered her an obstacle to his sexual advances toward his roommate, Steven Randolph, with whom Curtis had been having an affair.

Defense attorneys tried to cast doubt on the state's case by saying evidence suggested Randolph was more likely to have stabbed Curtis, 21, nearly 40 times in the head, neck, chest and stomach and to have left her body along Interstate 540 in Raleigh.

Victim's father: "This man really took something really precious." Web only: Interview with victim's father

After two days of deliberations, the jury found the state presented evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Reaves killed Curtis. Juror Reymond Lozares said the jury was united in their decision and would have no trouble sleeping at night.

"We made the right decision," he said. "The facts were there."

After the unanimous verdict was read, Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens invited Assistant Wake County District Attorney Howard Cummings to share with the jury additional evidence against Reaves which was not part of the sworn testimony.

"I was required at an earlier stage in this trial, because of a deficiency in a search warrant, to suppress all the evidence that was seized from a search of the house. Therefore you did not get the benefit of that evidence," Stephens said.

Curtis had been at Reaves' home visiting Randolph the night before motorists found her body on Jan. 30, 2008.

Reaves, who did not testify during his trial, told investigators he was not on I-540 that night and that no one else had his car.

Cummings told jurors that the most important omission was the discovery at Reaves' house of a partially melted trash can containing accelerant and fabric which, he said "the state would have contended was an effort on his part to burn clothes."

Police also found a receipt for the purchase of what Cummings called a "broiling pan" dated the morning on Jan. 30.

"It would have been the state's position," Cummings said, "that Mr. Reaves got up that morning, after everybody had left, needed to get rid of something that had some blood on it or otherwise might implicate him. I mean, why do you burn clothes?"

The state presented testimony from a state trooper who identified an abandoned car along I-540 that morning as Reaves’. A DNA expert also testified that Reaves' DNA couldn't be excluded from evidence at the crime scene.

A knife discovered in Reaves' car nine months after the crime was never tested and never connected to Curtis' wounds, and defense attorneys implied that it was planted in Reaves' car.

Prosecutors scoffed at that argument, calling it nothing more than speculation.

Defense attorney George Kelly filed to appeal the verdict Friday afternoon. "There was evidence ... which a jury could go either way," he said.

34 Comments

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  • jglyn43 Oct 12, 9:41 a.m.

    The above comment is one of the problems with today's juries. There has never been a standard of proving one guilty "beyond a shred of doubt." The standard is beyond a reasonable doubt. Not all doubt is reasonable

    Lady Justice, I understand your point here but what is reasonable to one person may not be necessarily reasonable to another.

    even two different judges can interprete the law differently and both be considered right and just.

  • Lady Justice Oct 9, 6:46 p.m.

    "Lady Justice You need to cut back on watching too much Nancy Grace"
    gsmith275492

    Since I don't watch Nancy Grace, you will have to explain that comment to me, cause I don't get it!

  • bonnnie Oct 9, 6:04 p.m.

    I feel the death penalty would have been a better sentence for this man. He took a life so he should have to give his but that's just my opinion everybody's has one.

  • Real Oct 9, 4:48 p.m.

    The Bible says put your trust in no man. To the father of the victim know that God is still God. I understand your hurt but don't let this rob you anymore.

    I still think Randolph has some question to answer. But it's over now.

    Reaves, know you have to ask your self was this worth it. And then you have to deal with how you know the word of God and did different. And how instead of leading lives to Jesus you lead them away. You really have blood on your hands.

    His sister was not moved at all. Do you think she knew what he was doing?

  • 5-113 FA Retired Oct 9, 4:29 p.m.

    Lady Justice You need to cut back on watching too much Nancy Grace

  • csplantlover Oct 9, 4:24 p.m.

    I think justice was served here as well. I don't think this man had much of a credible defense.......

  • mjlt3 Oct 9, 4:04 p.m.

    Justice has been served, may he rot below the ground!

  • Stormy13 Oct 9, 3:58 p.m.

    The jury should be able to sleep well tonight and every night in the future with the decision they made. Can the Defense Attorney do the same, I think not.

  • 5-113 FA Retired Oct 9, 3:53 p.m.

    I would venture to speculate that this guy is actually looking forward to the big house where all his wildest dreams will come true for sure.

  • Lady Justice Oct 9, 3:44 p.m.

    I wonder how many of the people here sat and listened to ALL the evidence in this trail instead of just reading the WRAL condensed version. With some of the questions and comments I have read, it is obvious that some did not, as some of those questions were raised and answered in court.

    ......."1st off, why would any1 give this guy the death penalty considering the questionable evidence in this case. Were this a slam-dunk case proving his guilt without a shred of doubt, I'd agree with you but this case is far from that!"

    The above comment is one of the problems with today's juries. There has never been a standard of proving one guilty "beyond a shred of doubt." The standard is beyond a reasonable doubt. Not all doubt is reasonable."

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