Local News

Jury begins deliberations in trial for man facing death penalty

Posted January 16, 2018 1:33 p.m. EST
Updated July 13, 2018 11:17 a.m. EDT

— A Wake County jury began deliberating on Tuesday afternoon in the trial of a man facing the death penalty in connection with a 2014 double homicide in Fuquay-Varina.

Donovan Richardson was one of three men charged in connection with the shooting and killing of Arthur Lee Brown, 78, and David Eugene McKoy, 66, on July 19, 2014. Authorities said robbery appeared to be a motive in the shooting.

Tuesday began with testimony from a man who said he was solicited to call one of the witnesses in the trial last week and to tell her not to take the stand.

Damieon Levon Jacobs, 21, of 107 W. Maple Ave. in Holly Springs, told the jury that a man called him and asked him to contact a woman named Jamila Gilliam and ask her to not to testify against Richardson. Jacobs said Richardson himself called him from jail to make sure he had carried through with the threat.

Jacobs is charged with intimidating a witness and is being held without bond. Gilliam did testify and admitted to receiving the call but said she was not threatened by it in any way.

After this testimony, the jurors got a chance to look at the state's physical evidence displayed in the courtroom.

Both of the attorneys then had the chance to make their closing arguments.

Prosecutor Howard Cummings reminded the jury to think of the victim.

"Mr. Brown was shot three times about halfway in his bed. Mr. McKoy was shot one time in the face...laying in his bed," he told the jury.

Kevin Britt who admitted to driving the getaway car, testified against Richardson in return for a plea deal.

"If two people go into that house and one of them has a gun, whatever happens in that house is the criminal responsibility of both of them," said Cummings.

Defense attorney Joe Zeszotarski acknowledged the pain of the victims' families, but said the state had not met its burden of proving that Richardson was in the house.

"There is no proof that Donovan was inside in any way," he said.

Zeszotarski also questioned the credibility of the state's star witness, Britt.

"We know that what Kevin Britt said happened in the night, in the early morning hours of July 18, could not have happened that way."

The last person to face the death penalty in Wake County was Nathan Holden, who was convicted of the 2014 murder of his ex-wife’s parents and sentenced to life in prison without parole in March 2017.

A Wake County jury has not sentenced anyone to death since 2007, and a decision to do so requires a unanimous decision by all 12 jurors.