Local News

Suspect Admits To 2nd-Degree Murder In Retired Teacher's Death

Posted October 23, 2006 8:47 a.m. EDT

— A man charged with killing a retired Wake County schoolteacher could escape the death penalty if a jury finds him guilty of second-degree murder in the case.

At the advice of his attorney, Ezavia Allen, 19, charged with first-degree murder, admitted on Monday to the lesser charge in the April 28, 2005, shooting death of Shirley Newkirk, 63. The admission, however, is not a legal plea.

Raleigh police said Allen, along with two other men, Cameron Morris and Marvin Johnson, were on a robbery spree when they encountered Newkirk outside her home on Dacian Road that morning.

Allen, police said, shot Newkirk, who had been getting ready to go meet a friend for their daily morning walk. Newkirk's husband heard the shooting and called 911. Newkirk died minutes later.

Unlike first-degree murder, second-degree murder does not involve premeditation. This means the jury can consider a lesser charge, and Allen could get 40 years in prison instead of death.

"We're not trying to hide the fact he is the one that fired the shot that resulted in her death," Allen's attorney, Barry Winston, said.

Allen is the first of the three suspects to stand trial. Jury selection began Monday and was expected to resume Tuesday.

About an hour before Newkirk was shot, investigators said, the three men had tried to rob a man on East Lane Avenue, but the driver sped away. Police said the men fired shots at the car.

Winston said he expects the trial to last about three weeks.