No death penalty in murder case

Mar. 26, 2013 @ 07:53 PM

A Henderson man will not face the death penalty in the Oct. 20 shooting death of a Raleigh man on Young Avenue, according to prosecutors in Vance County Superior Court.

In a hearing before Judge Elaine Bushfan, Assistant District Attorney Bill Griffin entered the state’s prerogative in response to a mandated Rule 24 conference in the first-degree murder case against LaJohn Laquan Champion.

Champion and Darnell Thomas Macon, both of Henderson, face charges in the shooting death of 25-year-old Gregory Welfare in a roadway near Young Avenue and Springwood Apartments.

“The state decided to proceed non-capital at its discretion,” Griffin said, with no elaboration on reasons for the prosecutorial move away from seeking a death penalty in the case.

A Rule 24 mandatory conference on whether the state will continue the case as a capital offense trial is also expected for Macon. A date for the hearing is not yet in court records.

Welfare died following a gunshot injury to the chest.

At least five callers reported the Saturday afternoon gunfight to 911 dispatchers. One caller voiced concern for children in the area when gunshots were heard.

Henderson police responding found Welfare and Champion both wounded from gunshot injuries. Welfare later died at Maria Parham Medical Center.

Investigators said two rounds from an AK-47 were found in a 2012 Ford Fusion which was later searched. Police also recovered other evidence from the vehicle, registered with a rental company in Virginia.

A decision on bond is required in the case against Champion, but court records on a bond amount or conditions were not available at press time.

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.