Nancy Alford murder case: 1 suspect asks to withdraw guilty plea while second wants DA off the case
Posted October 23, 2019 6:30 p.m. EDT
Updated October 24, 2019 2:58 p.m. EDT
The two suspects who are charged in a deadly home invasion and fire last year in Lake Gaston were in court Wednesday and asked the judge for two requests that could roil the case.
Lester Kearney, 35, has been charged with murder in the March 2018 death of Nancy Alford. He could face the death penalty if convicted when the case goes to trial.
Alford was killed in a fire at her home after a home invasion in which her husband was beaten and tied up and she was driven to Roanoke Rapids and forced to cash a check at a credit union.
During a previous court hearing, the Rev. John Alford identified Kearney as the knife-wielding man who broke into his home on Mulberry Court in Littleton, attacked him and kidnapped his wife.
Co-defendant Kevin Munn, 31, pleaded guilty last year to a first-degree murder charge in the case to avoid a possible death sentence, and in doing so, agreed to testify against Kearney.
But on Wednesday, Munn took the stand, while John Alford was in the courtroom, and asked the judge to withdraw his guilty plea. He said he was rushed and pressured into accepting a plea deal and is not guilty.
He said that Kearney has sent letters to him in prison, threatening to kill his kids and family if he, "didn't take the charge."
Prosecutors asked Munn if that weighed into his decision to withdraw the plea and thus not testify against Kearney.
Munn said no before the judge gave him a few weeks to review the evidence against him before he makes a ruling.
Kearney also appeared in court, asking the judge to remove District Attorney Mike Waters as the prosecutor in the case.
The request stems from the fact that Waters, while in private practice, briefly represented Kearney in 2013 when he was charged with constructive possession of a firearm, a case that was dismissed.
Kearney said Waters told him that, if he was the prosecutor during the 2013 case, he'd have the book thrown at him.
"It's already been obvious that it's not going to be fair," Kearney said. "I based that on the past experience with him."
Kearney then went on to claim his innocence.
"The evidence is showing that I am innocent," he told the judge. "Mr. Alford is clearly making a mistake."
Waters took the stand himself, refuting Kearney's account.
"I'm quite certain that . . . I did not say that," he told the court.
The judge denied the request by Kearney, who was then returned to prison.
The Alford family declined to make any comments, and a date for the trial has not yet been set.