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Probation officials: Murder suspects tracked properly

State probation officials say they are looking at how four men charged in the shooting death of Raleigh cab driver Michael Palmer were being tracked.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — A state probation official said Monday afterbiib that they four men charged in the shooting death of a Raleigh man were being tracked properly at the time of the crime they are accused of. One was listed as an absconder, and a second's probation had been revoked.

Michael Howard Palmer, a cab driver for AAA Cabs, was killed the night of Dec. 15 during what police said was a robbery attempt at Quail Ridge Apartments on Falls of Neuse Road.

Investigators have charged the four men with second-degree murder in the 59-year-old's death.

"There's protocol that says how you (review these cases) and what you do when you find things wrong," said Robert Guy, director of the state Division of Community Corrections, which oversees the probation system.

"I'll be looking at those," he continued.

According to Department of Correction records, one of the suspects, Alexander Hakeen Gonzales, 19, of 3020-9 Spanish Court, had been on 36 months' probation since last November for robbery and had violated probation when he tested positive for marijuana and when he missed curfew.

He had been listed as an absconder since June for not checking in with his probation officer. A warrant was issued for his arrest in September.

Two others, Eugene Dumas, 19, of 211 Shelden Drive, and Jayshon Najee Norment, 19, of 925-C Heathridge Court, had been on probation since April for felony breaking-and-entering in 2007.

Dumas was also convicted in October of second-degree trespassing. He was in court the day after Palmer was killed for violating probation. That hearing was continued to January.

Norment was on probation for a second breaking-and-entering case, one in which he stole a 12-gauge shotgun.

A fourth suspect, Xavia Monqual Barnes, 17, also of 3020-9 Spanish Court, had also been on probation after a March conviction for driving while impaired and for credit card theft.

Barnes' probation, however, was revoked in August when he "failed and refused" to contact his probation officer, despite numerous letters and visits since May 2008.

Dumas, Barnes and Gonzales were already in the Wake County jail on second-degree burglary charges when police identified them as suspects in Palmer's death. Officers had arrested the three on Thursday in connection with a home break-in.

All four suspects were being held in the Wake County jail without bond Monday afternoon.

Search warrants indicate that police believe Gonzales was the shooter.

“It’s a sad story – to hear that these are kids, basically. They’re teenagers, 19, 17 years old,” said Palmer's cousin, Henri Glover.

At the same time that police were assembling the quartet's history Monday, Palmer's family and friends gathered at C. A. Haywood Sr. Memorial Chapel at the Haywood Funeral Home in Raleigh to remember him. He had worked as a cab driver for most of his life, starting with AAA two months ago.

"He enjoyed meeting people, talking to people, listening to their stories," Glover, said.

Police said Palmer made his last pickup at the Greyound Bus station in downtown Raleigh on the night of Dec. 15 and dropped his fare off at Quail Ridge shortly before 11 p.m.

Investigators said they still want to talk to a woman whom they say Palmer transported during that trip.

"We just basically did not understand what had happened. What occurred? Why?" Palmer's daughter, Vonise Palmer, said.

“We want the whole truth, so if anyone else knows anything else, we want people to still come forward," she continued.

Police have set up an anonymous tip line for the case at 919-227-6220.

Palmer, a graduate of J. W. Ligon High School in Raleigh, is survived by his daughter, former wife, siblings and a cousin.

A memorial fund has been set up for Palmer's family. Donations and contributions can be made to The Michael Palmer Fund at any Wachovia Bank in North Carolina.


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