Exclusive: Suspect in Durham kidnapping, shooting declares his innocence
Posted August 27, 2015 6:42 p.m. EDT
Updated August 28, 2015 4:36 p.m. EDT
Durham, N.C. — A man charged along with four others in the kidnapping and shooting of two teens in Durham said Thursday that he had nothing to do with the crimes.
In an exclusive jailhouse interview with WRAL News, Niajel Quashaun Slade said he's innocent and being accused because of his alleged involvement in a different crime in 2013.
"I've been in court twice for that. My name is always being thrown out because of my past," Slade said. "I feel like when my name came up in this case the DA and police looked at the case and saw they didn't have anything. They were like, 'We're going to get him with everything we got right now.'"
Slade, 23, of 2507 E. Main St. in Durham, is charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill. Investigators said he kidnapped 19-year-old Dymond Fowler and her best friend, 17-year-old Alexis Patterson, on Monday night. The girls were shot multiple times and left in a ditch by Glenn Road. Patterson survived by playing dead, but Fowler died.
A warrant for Slade's arrest was issued Tuesday, and he turned himself in Wednesday. He said he knows the victims but did not hurt them.
"I hope the person that did this will come forward,” Slade said. “I read stories all the time about people sitting in jail 30 years and they’re finally innocent. I don’t got 30 years. I’m innocent now. That’s the reason I turned myself in."
He also had a message for the victims' families.
"I truly am sorry about what happened, but I ain’t got nothing to do with this," Slade said.
Also arrested in the case are:
- Brittany Sharnell Lassiter, 22, of 5903 Ludgate Drive in Durham, is charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping and felony conspiracy.
- Jesus Arce, 24, address unavailable, is charged with first-degree kidnapping and felony conspiracy.
- Dominique Faulkner, 19, address unavailable, is charged with two counts of felony conspiracy and felony probation violation.
- Alezia Clay, 19, of 3507 Thornwood Drive, is charged with two counts of first-degree kidnapping and two counts of felony conspiracy.
A Durham County courtroom was packed with family members Thursday who came for the first court appearance of Slade, Lassiter and Clay.
Durham County Assistant District Attorney Jim Dornfried on Thursday confirmed that the kidnappers demanded ransom money between $15,000 and $20,000.
"Two young ladies were kidnapped from a hotel. There was a call in reference for a ransom, and then shortly thereafter, they were shot," he said.
Lassiter’s grandmother said in court that her granddaughter is not guilty of the crime.
“I don’t think she was there. I think Brittany is in a set-up,” Rachel Jones said. “Brittany would never engage in something like this. I know she’s innocent.”
Arce was in the courtroom to show his support for the three suspects. He was arrested as he left.
No bond was set for Slade and Lassiter while the state decides whether the case will be tried as a capital murder case. A $1 million bond was set for Clay, who is a student at Shaw University.