Local News

Ex-pastor's roommate testifies in murder trial

Posted October 1, 2009 9:38 a.m. EDT
Updated October 1, 2009 7:29 p.m. EDT

— The roommate of Robert Reaves, a former pastor on trial for murder, said he went out and got a gun after Reaves made sexual advances toward him and offered him a free place to live in exchange for oral sex.

"If I would do that, (rent) would be free of charge," Steven Randolph testified Thursday, detailing a conversation he and Reaves had in which Reaves asked him about his sexual habits.

"He asked me if I was a freak, as far as kinky things," Randolph said.

Randolph said he eventually avoided going home because he was uncomfortable by Reaves' conduct and borrowed a gun from his cousin to show Reaves how serious he was about not engaging in gay sex.

"A guy that says he was a man of God, then does that – who knows what he's capable of?" Randolph said. "I don't know. I have a gun to protect myself."

Prosecutors say Reaves killed North Carolina Central University student Latrese Curtis in a jealous rage because he considered her an obstacle to his sexual advances toward Randolph. Randolph testified Thursday that he and Curtis were friends who had sex together.

Drivers discovered the 21-year-old Curtis' body the morning of Jan. 30, 2008, along Interstate 540 near Louisburg Road in Raleigh. She was stabbed nearly 40 times in the head, neck, chest and stomach.

During the trial's third day of testimony, jurors also heard from several other witnesses with whom Randolph had a sexual relationship. They testified being harassed, and one detailed how her car tires were slashed.

Defense attorneys argued there was no evidence that Reaves was involved, but a friend of Randolph's, Warren Roberson testified that he recognized the voice on a voicemail message claiming responsibility for the tire slashing to sound like that of Reaves'.

Testifying under a subpoena, Reaves' sister and second roommate, Willa Mae "Poochie" Thorpe, said she saw Curtis at her brother's home the night before Curtis was found dead.

Earlier Thursday, Kimberly Parker, a friend of Curtis, testified about a call she received from Curtis' cell phone in the early hours of Jan. 30.

"I heard a lot of wind, footsteps. It sounded like it was on gravel," Parker said. "I said, 'Latrese,' when I figured out who it was. I kept on saying, 'Latrese,' and 'hello.' Then, I was quiet after that."

"It was very odd for her to call that late at night," Parker added.

Prosecutors have argued that Reaves followed Curtis from his home the night of Jan. 29 and stabbed her before leaving her body along I-540.

A minister at the time at Cedar International Fellowship in Durham, Reaves has claimed he was attending a church function that night.

But Reaves had no explanation for investigators when questioned why his car on I-540 at the time, prosecutors said.

State trooper Isaac Cooper testified Wednesday that he saw Reaves' Chrysler Pacifica parked along I-540 that morning with keys in the ignition, hazard lights on and the driver-side window rolled down.

Wake County Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Lindow said during opening arguments that Reaves had no explanation as to why his car was out on I-540, said he wasn't familiar with the area and said no one had his car on Jan. 29 or Jan. 30.

The trial is expected to resume Friday morning with expert witnesses taking the stand.

Prosecutors have said their case will likely run until Wednesday and that the full trial could take at least two weeks.