Defendant in murder plot of Warren County deputy denied bond reduction

Oct. 16, 2013 @ 07:52 PM

Jeremiah Stephen Royster’s bond remains $1 million in the case charging felony conspiracy to commit the murder of Sgt. Terry Williams, a detective in the Warren County Sheriff’s Office.

Royster, 40, appeared in Vance County Superior Court Wednesday where Judge George Collins Jr. heard arguments. He denied a motion for a lower bond made by defense attorney Mani Dexter.

Assistant District Attorney Onica Fuller outlined the case against Royster, highlighting the seriousness of the chain of events that led Warren County and state law enforcement to track down and make two arrests.

“Mr. Royster with co-defendant Eddie Wilson conspired to kill Detective Sgt. Terry Williams,” Fuller said.

According to Fuller, law enforcement officers received a call-in tip from an informant who said he was asked about taking part in the plan to kill Williams before a scheduled hearing on drug charges against Wilson.

“That is our belief,” Fuller said.

Dexter said warrants in the case actually charge a lesser conspiracy type than is noted on the docket, and the statutory sentencing runs nine to 11 years for that statutory reference.

“I believe the bond could be based on what he is actually charged with,” she said.

Dexter complained that results of an interview after Royster’s arrest remain under wraps. She said officers showed animosity based on a 1991 murder case in which Royster was serving life in prison until being re-sentenced two years ago.

“My understanding is there is no recording at all of that interview,” Dexter said. “There are definitely connections to that prior case, and for two months now he has been kept in essentially solitary confinement.”

Dexter said Royster is taking courses at Vance-Granville Community College as he quietly puts his life back together. She said he has been caught up in an intrigue and pulled back into the criminal element against his will.

Dexter said there are many reasons for numerous law enforcement and other individuals in Warren County to have animosities stemming from the 1991 case.

Royster asked to speak for himself, which Collins allowed once court officials were finished with their arguments.

Royster said the informant who called police knew about $3,000 that Royster had, an informant now in jail on burglary and larceny activity that included an attempt to steal from Royster’s home.

“His strategy was to get me arrested on these serious charges so he could know I would be held away from my home,” Royster said.

About the interrogation, Royster accused a deputy of using a chair as a deadly weapon at one point. He added that Williams was present, which presented a probable conflict of interest: a victim allowed to confine and grill a defendant for a lengthy, confrontational period.

“The interrogation lasted for about 22 hours,” Royster said.

Wilson is charged with soliciting Royster to commit the first-degree murder of Williams. Future trials and hearings for the case will return to Warren County, according to court officials.

Wilson remains jailed on $1 million bond for the conspiracy case plus $120,000 bond total from three additional heroin trafficking cases.

Royster is being held in a Raleigh state facility for protective reasons, according to an official with the State Bureau of Investigation.

Dexter, a Chapel Hill area attorney, is Royster’s third appointed attorney. Royster, in written documents included in the case file, acknowledged misgivings about being represented by an attorney with a regular practice in Warren County.

According to court records, Wilson, of 155 Linwood Kearney Road in Warrenton, is also on his third court-appointed attorney, Elliott Abrams.

 

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.