Local News

Deliberations Under Way in Fayetteville Double Murder Trial

Posted March 29, 2000 6:00 a.m. EST

— Weeks of emotional testimony are over in a Fayetteville double murder trial. Now, the fate of two suspected gang members is in the hands of a Cumberland County jury.

Jurors heard more than five hours of closing arguments Thursday. On Friday, they began deliberating the guilt or innocence of the suspects.

Lawyers for Eric Queen and Francisco "Paco" Tirado did not put on a case, call any witnesses or offer any evidence. Instead, they tried to convince jurors with their closing arguments.

"It is not the quantity of the evidence. It is the quality," said George Franks, Tirado's attorney.

The defense told jurors that is where there is room for reasonable doubt.

In closing arguments, defense attorneys say much of the state's case relies on gang member Ione Black.

In a plea agreement, Black testified she witnessed the defendants kill two women. During closing arguments Thursday, the defense tried to discredit her.

"A leap of faith is believing Ione Black when it is in her best interests to say what she has to say to get whatever she wants," said Franks.

Black testified that defendant Eric Queen shot and killed Tracy Lambert, and that Paco Tirado did the same to Susan Moore. The state says the women were murdered and another woman, Debra Cheeseborough, was left for dead as part of a gang initiation.

The state spent much of the day backing up Black's testimony with other evidence. Even though the defense asked jurors to put their emotions aside, the state went after the defendants and the softer side of the jury.

"And so Mr. Tirado, we are most grateful to you, sir ... for providing a speedy and painless execution of this child of God who had done nothing," said District Attorney Ed Grannis directly to Tirado.

"You do realize that you made a conscientious effort to get the gun close enough so that her death would be quick and painless. And for that, Mr. Queen, the state of North Carolina is most grateful," said Grannis directly to Queen.

Nine people are charged in this case. The District Attorney told the jury he believed the state's case is so strong in this trial that there is enough evidence to convict Queen, Tirado and the other seven suspects.

If convicted of murder, both defendants face the death penalty.

Jurors are expected back in the courtroom Monday at 10 a.m.