With Eight Arrests, More Still Possible In Gang-Involved Shooting
Posted June 8, 2006 7:53 a.m. EDT
RALEIGH, N.C. — The weekend shooting on Beauty Avenue in Raleigh that left one teenager dead and wounded three others is affecting many lives.
The latest suspects, Michael Contrez Jones, 19, and Percy Lee Smith, 30, were taken into custody on Wednesday, bringing the total number of people charged in the case to eight.
Police characterize the shooting as one involving gang members. The investigation continues, and Raleigh police say there could still be more arrests.
"In this particular case, the facts of the case lead detectives to believe, and the magistrate to concur, that murder charges were warranted under each of the defendants," said Raleigh police spokesman Jim Sughrue.
Under North Carolina law, if people conspire or work together to plan a homicide, they can all be charged, even if they don't physically commit the crime.
"If each person may do one or more acts, that's in furtherance of the crime," said Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby. "Together, they all commit the crime; together they are all equally responsible."
Defense attorneys say it is not uncommon for the state to charge people with the most severe crime and then later lower the charges in return for their testimony at trial. But until that time, most defendants are usually kept in jail.
"(It's) easy to charge, hard to convict," said defense attorney Bill Young. "Unfortunately, in a case like this, you're talking about people charged with murder who have no or little involvement that can't even get out of jail because there's no bond on a murder charge."
As gang activity increases, law enforcement is taking these cases more seriously and they may soon have a new tool.
State House Bill 50
, the Gang Prevention Act, makes penalties stiffer for gang members who commit crimes. It has already been passed by the state House and is currently being considered by the Senate.