Local News

Driver charged with murder in deaths of 4 on Johnston road

Posted July 13, 2015 5:22 a.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2015 4:20 p.m. EDT

— A Zebulon man faces murder charges after his vehicle swerved off a Johnston County road late Sunday and into a crowd of bystanders, killing four people.

According to State Highway Patrol investigators and witnesses, Jimmy Pearce, 37, of 11557D N.C. Highway 39, was racing his 1989 Ford Mustang against another vehicle on Simon Road just before 11 p.m. when he lost control near Buckhorn Drive and veered into a crowd of more than a dozen spectators.

Pearce's car came to a stop after hitting a tree, and he suffered minor injuries, investigators said.

The collision killed four people – Carlton Ray Brooks, 42, Undra Montrell Taybron, 40, Garland Earp, 39, and Arrington Earp, 23.

"It's just not real," Sonya Earp said. She lost both her brother and her only son in an instant.

Three others Larry Deans, Roncellis Marshall and Ida Mae Rapa – were injured and were being treated Monday at WakeMed in Raleigh.

Pearce was charged with three counts of second-degree murder and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon. He was being held under a $1 million secured bond in the Johnston County jail.

Sonya Earp said she doesn't blame Pearce for what she called "a freak accident."

"I'm not mad at him. I don't have a feeling of animosity because I don't think it was something he set out to do," she said.

The driver of the other vehicle, who witnesses said was traveling in the wrong lane at the time of the crash, fled the scene, and authorities asked the public for help to identify that person or that car. Anyone with information is asked to contact the State Highway Patrol by calling 1-800-662-7956.