Local News

Defense presents evidence in ex-pastor's murder trial

Posted October 6, 2009 10:53 a.m. EDT
Updated October 6, 2009 7:46 p.m. EDT

— Defense attorneys for Robert Reaves presented evidence from six witnesses Tuesday before resting its case to counter prosecutors' claims that the former pastor killed a North Carolina Central University student last year.

Robert Lee Adams Reaves is on trial for the January 2008 death of Latrese Matral Curtis, who was stabbed nearly 40 times and left along Interstate 540 in Raleigh. Her white Nissan Sentra was found nearby.

Prosecutors laid out their case that Reaves killed Curtis in a jealous rage because he viewed her as an obstacle to his sexual advances toward his roommate, Steven Randolph, with whom Curtis had been having sex.

The state rested its case Tuesday morning after five days of testimony.

Amy Kreiss testified on behalf of the defense Tuesday, saying she was headed home along eastbound I-540 around 11:30 p.m. on Jan. 29 and saw a white cargo van and a white four-door Nissan Sentra parked along the road.

The van had been parked there for three days, she said, and the Sentra sped off as her headlights shined upon the car.

Prosecutors presented evidence last week from a state trooper who said he found Reaves' Chrysler Pacifica parked on westbound I-540 the morning of Jan. 30.

An investigator also testified that Randolph told him he saw Reaves' car parked at their Durham home that night.

But DNA evidence was the focus of the defense's case for most of the day with an expert questioning the credibility of a mixture or DNA collected at the crime scene.

"There's a lot of question that goes along with a mixture," Dana Way testified. "That's why they're very, very difficult to interpret."

Reaves did not testify in the case.

Closing arguments are expected Wednesday.

Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty in this case, meaning that Reaves would face life in prison if he is found guilty of first-degree murder.

Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens said Tuesday afternoon that he will allow the jury to consider second-degree murder as well.