Pair Found Guilty in Fayetteville Double Murder
Posted April 2, 2000 7:00 a.m. EDT
FAYETTEVILLE — Weeks of emotional testimony and jury deliberation have ended in a double murder trial. The jury has found Eric Queen, 21, and Francisco "Paco" Tirado, 18, guilty of all 14 counts each faced.
The two defendants were accused of killing two women and nearly taking the life of a third.
Tirado's and Queen's lawyers did not call any witnesses or offer any evidence. Instead, they tried to convince jurors with their closing arguments.
The state put on testimony that Eric Queen shot and killed Tracy Lambert, 19, and that Paco Tirado did the same to 25-year-old Susan Moore. The state says the women were murdered and that Cheeseborough, also shot, was left for dead as part of a gang initiation. The women were chosen at random.
The jurors deliberated three hours and 15 minutes. They charged the defendants with first-degree murder, attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon.
On hearing the verdict, the victims' family members wept quietly as did the only victim to survive, Debra Cheeseborough.
Although the verdicts as announced were unanimous, the judge is required to poll jurors individually on each count. Judge William Gore conducted that polling right after the verdicts were announced.
Cheeseborough says Lambert's and Moore's parents will be living without their daughters, and she will have to live with the scars of the incident.
"There's no closure for me," Cheeseborough says. "There's no closure for the other families."
Cheeseborough was shot seven times before being left for dead, but says her faith and an image of her deceased mother were her lifeline during the incident.
"When people hear what happened to me, they use the word luck, and I correct them and say luck had nothing to do with it," Cheeseborough says. "I was truly blessed."
Cheeseborough says it has been tough facing the gang members in court -- and seeing how they presented themselves to the jury.
"God, how they cleaned them up," Cheeseborough says. "They didn't look like that when they were arrested. They are no choir boys."
Cheeseborough says she and her husband move around to maintain the family's privacy and safety, but she says she is ready and willing to testify at the trials of seven others also accused in the gang slayings.
Ray Horne, father of one of the victims, said, the two defendants took his life.
"That's all I lived for," Horne says. "I do have a granddaughter, but she has to live without her mama."
Prosecutors said the killers used bullets that had been painted blue, the signature color of the Crips, a notorious gang that originated in Los Angeles.
A man who claims to be a part of that gang, says there will be no retaliation due to the verdict, but says the gangs mission will continue.
"They give out gang a bad reputation, but it will never stop for us. We are going to keep on being soldiers."
The sentencing portion of the trial begins Tuesday for Tirado; the sentencing hearing for Queen will follow. They could receive either life in prison or the death penalty.