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Blockbuster Murder Trial Begins in Raleigh

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RALEIGH — Kier Lohbeck was a hard working young man,just trying to earn money to pay for his college education. It was thatsame ambition that cost Kier Lohbeck his life on a cold January night in1994.

He had just left his job at the Blockbuster video store in Raleigh's Mission Valley shopping center when a stranger approached him in the dark.Moments later, Lohbeck dropped to the ground from a fatal gunshot wound.

The trial got underway Tuesday inside a Wake County courtroom for theman police say pulled the trigger.

The 1994 murder and subsequent manhunt gripped the entire city withfear. Then, last December, police say they got a tip and a break in thecase, both of which led to the arrest of Vincent Hall. Hall is now ontrial charged with first degree murder.

After his arrest, Hall told WRAL that he did not commit the crime.

Blockbuster manager Catherine Harold was with Lohbeck the night hedied. She says it's a night she'll never forget.

Hall's former roommate, Darryl Brown, was on the witness stand for mostof Thursday's proceedings. He testified that Hall came home in the earlymorning hours of January 25, 1994, and that Hall confessed to the crimethe next morning.

In return for his testimony, Brown received a drastically reducedsentence on several robbery charges. He testified that he and Hall robbedtwo Burger King restaurants together after the Blockbuster crime wascommitted. Sandra Jacobs, a Burger King employee identified Hall in closedcourt, away from the presence of the jury. She said he was the man whorobbed her as he held a gun to her head.

The defense did not want Jacobs' testimony included in the case. Theysay the Burger King robberies have nothing to do with the Blockbustermurder. The judge, however, said he will allow the testimony because robbery is believed to be a possible motive in that murder.

Jacobs was, therefore, scheduled to testify in front of the juryWednesday morning. Experts say the trial, so far, is progressing fairlyslowly.

Photographer:GilHollingsworth

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