Local News

Father of Slain Teen Speaks to Grand Jury

Posted July 10, 2007 5:49 a.m. EDT
Updated July 10, 2007 6:23 p.m. EDT

— The father of a Durham teen killed last December during a botched police raid in Wilmington testified Tuesday before a grand jury  investigating the case.

State officials have asked the 18-member grand jury to consider indicting Christopher Long, a former New Hanover County deputy, on a charge of voluntary manslaughter in connection with the death of 18-year-old Peyton Strickland.

The grand jury hearing is expected to continue Wednesday.

Strickland was killed by a shot to the head on Dec. 1 as New Hanover County deputies and University of North Carolina at Wilmington police raided his rented house in search of two PlayStation 3 video-game consoles.

Long testified before the grand jury Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning, admitting that he killed Strickland when he mistook the sound of a battering ram against the front door of the house for gunshots.

Strickland's father, Don Strickland, testified before the grand jury Tuesday afternoon.

The hearing is very unusual, according to legal experts, who note the investigating officers are usually the only witnesses before grand juries.

A different New Hanover County grand jury indicted Long for second-degree murder in the case, but the charge was dropped a day later when the jury foreman admitted that he mistakenly checked the wrong box on the indictment form.

New Hanover County District Attorney Ben David turned the case over to the state Attorney General's Office and the State Bureau of Investigation in February, saying he wanted to avoid the appearance of either a cover-up or a vendetta against Long.

Twelve of the grand jurors must agree on a charge to return an indictment. Voluntary manslaughter carries a prison term of at least three years.