Murder trial from crash on I-85 to begin

Apr. 20, 2013 @ 02:34 PM

A Creedmoor man is scheduled to face a jury trial beginning Monday in Vance County Superior Court for the July 8, 2010, vehicle death of Cary motorcyclist Sean Christopher Newman.

Newman, who was 39, died at the scene where his 2010 BMW motorcycle was hit on Interstate 85 South. Police said the vehicle, a Volvo tractor-trailer, was driven by Michael Gray Rigsbee, who is now 41 years old.

The case had been prepared for trial several times in 2012, but trials fell through, with witnesses including some from out of state who had to be reorganized for a trial delay.

Rigsbee attorney J. Thomas Burnette on Friday said that he is prepared for trial, and has no indication of further delay for Monday.

The prosecuting attorney for the case, Assistant District Attorney Allison Capps, did not return requests for information on whether prosecutors are ready.

Rigsbee, of 1620 Pope Road, is charged with four felonies: second-degree murder, failure to render aid, reckless driving and hit and run with serious injury or death.

An investigating state trooper said Rigsbee did not stop his truck until he was pulled over by police of another jurisdiction about 20 miles south on the interstate once a vehicle description went out for assistance.

Rigsbee had initially been jailed, held on $112,000 bond. Court records included notations that he posted the $112,000 bond for release.

State trooper reports stated Newman died at the scene.

The accident occurred near Exit 220 in the Middleburg community at about 7 p.m. on a Thursday.

According to trooper reports, both vehicles were in southbound lanes when Rigsbee pulled his tractor-trailer into Newman’s lane, sending him into the median where he struck a post and cable guardrail, throwing Newman off the bike.

Rigsbee was driving a tractor-trailer designed to haul autos, but it was empty, according to patrol reports. He was believed to be headed home to Creedmoor when the crash took place.

Capps, after a June 12, 2012, jury trial fell through, said 16 potential witnesses had to be organized for the prosecution of the case.

“We were ready to begin seating a jury when this fell through,” Capps said then. “Fortunately we were able to call off the flights, the tickets are refundable, but we put three months of preparation in it.”

Capps said as recently as late March she was prepared for trial processes to begin on Monday. The June 2012 trial received a delay because of illness, keeping Burnette from court that week.


Contact the writer at