Courts 2012: Plea deals were arranged in eight murder cases

Jan. 12, 2013 @ 09:10 PM

Prosecutors reached plea deals in 2012 with eight murder-case defendants, imposing 37-58 years total of prison consequence for the eight lives lost in unrelated acts of violence.

Terrell Freeman, 25, of Chase City, Va., received six to eight years on July 16 for his role with two others in the Dec. 11, 2008, plot to travel from Virginia to the Stagecoach Road, Henderson, home of Joseph Arrington Davis, 48, tricking him by pretences, shooting him repeatedly with a shotgun, and then robbing him of $6.

Antonio Townes, 19, of Henderson, got nine to 11 years on Aug. 21 for shooting Dante Montrell Champion, 19, dead on July 10, 2010, on Pearl Street. The shooting involved several shots fired by more than one shooter.

A Jan. 6 plea deal on a manslaughter charge by Shamon Champion, 25, of Henderson, for the Aug. 23, 2009, shooting death of Robert Newsome Sr., 30, netted seven to nine years. The murder case was degraded by a felony larceny case against Sgt. Kendall Riddick, the Henderson Police Department lead detective in the investigation, according to prosecutors.

Assistant District Attorney Allison Capps said Newsome and Champion had an altercation at a nightclub that continued outside Newsome’s 715 High St., home, where Champion gunned him down then ran away.

Riddick, dismissed from the police department, had been tasked with gathering witness statements and finding the murder weapon. He was charged in an unrelated felony theft case before Champion’s case reached a resolution.

Capps said the deal “most definitely” was impacted by Riddick’s sudden departure.

Dampening the last three months of the trial opportunities for 2012 was a vehicle death case that got away.

Michael Gray Rigsbee, 40, of Creedmoor, is charged with second-degree murder, vehicle hit-and-run and reckless driving on Interstate 85. His Volvo tractor-trailer struck a BMW motorcycle July 8, 2010, driven by Sean Christopher Newman, 41, of Cary, killing him.

Capps said the case was prepared for trial in September and October, and was delayed again in December, twice because of defense attorney J. Thomas Burnette’s ill health, and the third time because a key prosecution witness was unavailable.

“We were ready to begin seating a jury when this fell through,” Capps said. “Fortunately, we were able to call off flights (for witnesses) and the tickets are refundable, but we put three weeks of preparation into it (for) a day and a half of testimony.”

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.