A Roanoke Rapids man who is serving a life sentence for gunning down a female officer in March of 1999 is now saying he did not do it. Douglas Travis believes he took the rap for an officer who accidentally killed his partner.
Travis recently celebrated his 26th birthday behind bars at Raleigh's Central Prison. If the state has its way, he will spend every birthday there.
A year ago, Travis was convicted of murdering Enfield police officer Tonya Gillikin. Now, he is speaking out about the case for the first time.
"There's a lot of discrepancies, there's a lot of cover ups, lot of cover ups," he said.
Gillikin was shot on Highway 301. There were several witnesses in nearby homes.
A woman who lives in one of those homes testified at Travis' trial that Gillikin was accidentally shot by her partner, not by Travis.
"The officers started shooting at me. The witness testified that Sgt. Gillikin came across the line of fire and got shot," Travis said.
Travis and his nephew, Lawrence Broady, were stopped by police because their car matched the description of a getaway vehicle at a convenience store robbery.
"I didn't kill the officer, I didn't rob the store," Travis said.
Travis claims he did not have a gun. Investigators never did find a weapon.
"I didn't have a weapon, so how could I kill someone without a weapon," Travis said.
A ballistics report from the State Bureau of Investigation shows investigators found two 9mm shell casings on the ground that did not match the officers' ammunition.
The autopsy report reveals Gillikin was shot with a 9mm gun, which carries a slightly smaller round than the officers use. A 9mm gun was also used in the convenience store robbery.
"The evidence was overwhelming of this defendant's guilt," said District Attorney Bob Caudle.
Caudle said the store clerk and Gillikin's partner, Officer Cedric Robinson, identified Travis.
An inmate who befriended Travis in jail testified that Travis confessed to the shooting.
The state also presented a letter allegedly written by Travis asking a friend to help him with an alibi.
Travis said he did not write the letter.
"There was obviously no doubt in the jury's mind that this defendant was guilty of all charges and they found him so. And there's no doubt in mine," Caudle said.
Travis believes the shooting was pinned on him to spare the police department embarrassment.
"They didn't care none," he said. "They figured we already know who did it, but we're going to pin it on him."
"You can almost expect someone with that much time on his hands to try whatever he can to pass the blame to someone else, I guess," Caudle said.
Until a court rules otherwise, the blame still lies with Travis. His case is currently pending in the North Carolina Court of Appeals.
Travis' co-defendant, Lawrence Broady, is expected to be tried in the next two months.