Teenager hears charges, penalties

Jan. 06, 2014 @ 09:00 PM

Joey Lamont Kearney, a 16-year-old facing a murder charge, was told Monday he could face life in prison.

Kearney appeared before Judge Randolph Baskerville in Vance County District Court. He faces charges of first-degree murder and robbery in the December shooting death of Roger Dell Tant.

Baskerville advised Kearney who appeared in a bright-yellow jail uniform from another detention jurisdiction, of charges and penalties. He could receive 17 years in prison on the robbery count.

In Franklin County, Kearney faces charges of first-degree murder, burglary and kidnapping.

Assistant District Attorney Annette Sellars said after the brief hearing that Kearney will not be facing the death penalty in the case.

“Because he is under 18, there will be no death penalty sought,” Sellars said. “This was a 96-hour hearing in which the defendant is required to be advised of his charges and the potential penalties he faces.”

There were no Kearney family members or friends in the courtroom during the hearing.

Kearney’s right hand remained tightly bandaged, with wrappings also around the wrist area. He sustained the injury during a shootout with a Vance County detective at the time of his arrest Dec. 31.

Killed during that shootout was Kearney’s brother, 34-year-old Ricky Junior Toney.

Baskerville said the 96-hour hearing was not the time to discuss bond, maintaining an order for Kearney to remain in jail pending a court hearing on Feb. 10.

“Do you have any questions at this time?” Baskerville asked the defendant.

Kearney responded that he did not, and maintained a stoic expression while the hearing progressed.

Sellars said the indigent defense services in Raleigh will take up the matter of assigning a permanent defense attorney for the case. She was not sure if Kearney would receive separate attorneys for the cases pending in two counties.

“He will receive a defense attorney in the next couple of days,” she said, adding that the seriousness of the case requires an attorney be appointed from a list of lawyers certified to represent clients facing major felony charges.

In the early morning hours of Dec. 31, a Franklin County deputy discovered Akesia Michelle Toney, 37, and her 16-year-old daughter, Brianna Jones, dead in their home at 1755 West River Road, Franklinton.

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office put out a vehicle description. After daybreak, at about 9, Vance County Det. Kenneth Wood spotted Ricky Toney driving his estranged wife’s car, with Kearney as a passenger, and gave pursuit.

The chase ended on Smith Road in Warren County, with Wood exchanging gunfire with the suspect, Ricky Toney, who was killed.

Tant, 63, was found on Dec. 22 in his 3985 Weldon’s Mill Road, Lot 14, mobile home. He was believed to have been shot to death the Thursday or Friday prior, on Dec. 19 or 20.

Kearney, known as “Lil-Dirty,” according to Franklin County arrest records served Dec. 31, was charged with two first-degree murder counts in the double homicide that day.

Kearney is scheduled to appear at a hearing in Franklin County District Court Jan. 14.


Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.