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Trial Begins For Man Accused In Raleigh Cop Slaying

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RALEIGH — As one double murder trial involving the death of law enforcement officers ends, another begins. A man accused of killing a Raleigh police officer and another man, is getting his day in court. Opening arguments began Wednesday afternoon in the trial of Kawame Mays.

If Mays is convicted, he could face the same penalty that was rendered in the Golphin brothers' trial that ended Wednesday -- death. Jury selection for this trial took a week-and-a-half.

Many, but most especially Raleigh police officers, will be watching this trial closely.

Attorneys spent Wednesday morning handling pre-trial motions. At issue, the defense wants to present testimony from police officers who heard Mays say he didn't know Detective Paul Hale was a law enforcement officer.

Mays is also accused of shooting and killing Michael Walker on Quarry Street in the early morning hours of July 11, 1997. Twelve hours later, investigators say he shot and killed Hale in a parking lot on Lenoir Street.

Mays admits he caused the two deaths, but says he didn't intend to kill anyone.

Because of the similarity to the Golphin trial in Cumberland County, the Wake County jury was instructed not to consider or be influenced by the verdict or sentence handed down in the earlier trial. The judge told them they can only judge Kawame Mays on the evidence presented in the Raleigh courtroom.

Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby was brief in his description of Mays' actions on the day of the two deaths.

"The defendant leaned forward, flashed the gun in [Hale's] face, and blasted away," Willoughby told jurors in his opening statement.

Attorney Johnny Gaskins is defending Mays. He says Mays does not deserve a first degree murder conviction.

"Kawame Mays accepts responsibility for what he did," said Gaskins. "However, he should not have to accept responsibility for more than what he did."

A major part of the defense strategy will be to show that Mays did not know Hale was a police officer, and to show that officers may have violated police procedure by not firs identifying themselves when they approached Mays.

"Kawame Mays thought that the two white men behind him were friends of Michael Walker's, also a white man, who were coming to retaliate for the death of Michael Walker," Gaskins told jurors.

The state's testimony started with a series of witnesses who were responsible for selling the murder weapon to Mays.

Both opening statements were very brief, and the state has already presented five witnesses. Attorneys say they expect the trial to last about two weeks.


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