Murder defendants appointed attorneys to defend death penalty

Dec. 12, 2012 @ 05:01 PM

First-degree murder cases against two Henderson men charged in an Oct. 20 shooting death have been referred to the capital defender’s office for attorneys certified to defend against the death penalty.

Gregory Welfare, a 25-year-old from Raleigh, died after being taken to Maria Parham Medical Center. The shooting took place near the intersection of Thomas Street and Young Avenue near Springwood Apartments.

Darnell Thomas Macon, 23, and LaJohn Laquan “John” Champion, 22, appeared in Vance County District Court, confirming they received court-appointed capital case defense attorneys. Macon and Champion appeared before Judge Carolyn J. Yancey.

Yancey set Jan. 10 hearings for each. Court officials confirmed that the case is eligible for presentation to the Superior Court grand jury on Monday.

According to court records, Macon and Champion are accused of shooting Welfare to murder him with “malice aforethought.”

Champion also was struck by return or stray gunfire, and he received treatment at Maria Parham Medical Center.

Callers to 911 dispatchers on the day of the incident described a scene in which many shots rang out and children were playing in the area.

Welfare reportedly drove a short distance from where the shooting occurred, and then ran off the road into a ditch where police found him minutes later.

Macon was arrested Nov. 26, charged with having a concealed firearm and being a felon with a firearm. Macon, who has addresses of 3299 Epsom Rocky Ford Road in Louisburg and 618 McBorn Street in Henderson, was still serving a probation order for the prior drug felony offense when the Welfare shooting death occurred, according to court records.

Champion was arrested Dec. 3. He lists addresses of 702 Jefferson Street and 60 Fern Lane, both in Henderson.

Macon received Durham attorney Phoebe Dee as his principal attorney from the capital defender’s office that includes Robert Manner Hurley as the office’s lead attorney.

Champion received Louisburg attorney Boyd Sturgis for his defense.

Prosecutors have until a required “Rule-24” hearing in Superior Court to announce confirmation of seeking the death penalty in the case. A hearing on that rule has not been set.

 

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.