Man found guilty of 1st-degree murder in '96 death of Shaw student
After less than two hours of deliberations on Monday afternoon, a Wake County jury found Edwin Christopher Lawing guilty of first-degree murder in the 1996 death of Shaw University student Lacoy McQueen.Posted — Updated
Lawing will now spend the rest of his life behind bars.
During emotional moments immediately following the announcement of the verdict, McQueen's college roommate and friend addressed the court.
"(McQueen) was my best friend and her life mattered, and her death, her murder, changed my whole life," McQueen's former roommate, Stephanie Jeffries Jones said. "I miss my friend so much and she didn't deserve what she got."
Barbara Carter, one of McQueen's friends, said the murder has haunted her for 20 years.
"Having to live with knowing that we were not there for her the moment she knew that she was in trouble," Carter said. "The moment she knew there was no way out."
The judge also gave Lawing an opportunity to speak. He proclaimed his innocence.
"I did not do this sir. That is all I can say," he said.
The quick verdict, which capped a week-long trial, was reached after both the defense and prosecution presented closing arguments.
Both sides agree that McQueen made a fatal decision the day she disappeared, but they disagree on what that decision was.
The prosecution says the fatal decision was meeting Lawing, her boyfriend who was upset that she was pregnant. The defense says McQueen stormed away from Lawing after an argument, and got into a car with two strangers who then killed her.
McQueen's blood was found in Lawing's North Carolina State University dorm room, and a pebble on Lawing's shoe matched rocks found at the site where her body was found in a wooded area off U.S. 1 in Kittrell, in Vance County.
During closing arguments, the defense attorney referred to the rock as "junk science," and said police "stalked" Lawing for 20 years, never considering other suspects.
"(The police) locked in on (Lawing) like a bloodhound," defense attorney Celia Visser said. "They continued to stalk him and harass him. Det. Grodi was sure he had his man. They would not leave him alone."
Wake County Assistant District Attorney Patrick Latour said Lawing was a selfish man who wanted to kill McQueen so the baby did not interfere with his life.
"Lawing was a calculated man. He did not want that baby," Latour said. "He was going to do whatever he had to do to get it done."
Lawing was a student at N.C. State at the time of the murder, and he was initially arrested in the case. Prosecutors later dismissed a murder charge against him because of lack of evidence.
Evidence was tested again in 2014 using technology that was unavailable to investigators in the 1990s. Lawing charged with McQueen’s murder again in December 2014.