Convicted killer: 'I didn't murder nobody'
Posted November 20, 2008 4:49 p.m. EST
Updated November 22, 2008 10:34 p.m. EST
Laurinburg, N.C. — Ever since a Lee County boy was killed four years ago, the man arrested and convicted in the case has insisted another man was the killer.
Last month, Victor Gamble's arguments were partially validated when Kevin Lance Key admitted to Lee County investigators that he had taken part in the July 12, 2004, beating death of 11-year-old Bradley Way.
Authorities said someone broke into Way's home on JJ Lane near the Lee-Moore county line and was surprised to find the fifth-grader inside. After the boy was killed, his body was dumped in an abandoned mobile home nearby, where it was found a few days later.
Gamble's fingerprints were found on a broken window at the Way home, and investigators said he stole jewelry from the home and pawned it for $65.
Gamble pleaded guilty two years ago to murder, kidnapping and breaking and entering in the case to avoid facing the death penalty. But he maintained he never killed Way.
"I feel like I should not be charged with murder because I didn't murder nobody," said Gamble, who is serving a life sentence in Scotland Correctional Institution.
Gamble repeatedly implicated Key in the slaying, but Key, who lives about a quarter-mile from the Way family, denied any involvement. Last month, while being questioned about his father's shooting death, Key finally admitted to authorities that he was in the Way home the night Bradley Way was killed.
Key has been charged with murder, kidnapping, felony breaking and entering, felony larceny and felony possession of stolen goods in the case, but he maintains he didn't kill the boy.
WRAL News couldn't reach his attorney for comment.
Gamble said he and Key went to the Way home that night to steal things. They thought the house was empty, but Key was startled to find Bradley Way home alone, Gamble said.
"(Key) came running and said, 'Someone else is here,'" Gamble said.
He said he ran outside to a truck, but Key didn't follow behind. Minutes later, he said, Key emerged from the house dragging the boy's body.
"He took Bradley by the leg and the arm and threw him over the side of the deck," he said.
A few days later, Gamble told investigators he thought Bradley Way was still alive. He now says he was too scared of Key and of being arrested to tell investigators his version of that night's events.
"I was scared and didn't know what to do at that time," he said. "I'm still a little bit afraid of him."
Investigators checked Key for some physical evidence at the time, but hairs found on Bradley Way's hands didn't match Key's.
Key told investigators during a 2004 interview that if he were going to kill someone, he would "beat him good" and "stomp his head."
An autopsy determined Bradley Way was stomped on repeatedly.
Investigators said Key remained a suspect in the slaying through the years but they never charged him until his recent confession. They have declined to comment when asked why he wasn't charged earlier.
Gamble's attorneys plan to challenge his guilty plea. Under state law, he can be charged with murder for participating in the burglary of the Way home, regardless of whether he actually killed Bradley Way.
"I feel like I should have to do some time," Gamble said. "But life for a crime I did not commit? No."