Four murder cases moving toward trial

Jan. 31, 2013 @ 03:27 PM

Four first-degree murder cases in Vance County Superior Court moved toward trial this week after a judge ruled them “exceptional” and removed routine motions and plea hearing steps.

Sent to trial by Judge Henry W. Hight Jr. were the murder cases of:

• Darnell Thomas Macon and LaJohn Laquan Champion, accused of shooting Gregory Welfare to death on Oct. 20.

• Quatrail Pair, accused of shooting Deonte Judkins to death on Dec. 11.

• Darius Montrael “Gang” Benson, charged in the Aug. 4 home shooting death of Curtis Lee Morton.

“It is standard practice in these circumstances, given the complexity of these cases,” said Assistant District Attorney Bill Griffin.

The cases could potentially be capital defense cases. Griffin said a “Rule 24” hearing is next in the process for each defendant to decide if the death penalty shall be sought.

Macon, 23, of 618 McBorn St., and Champion, 22, of 702 Jefferson St., both of Henderson, face charges of shooting Welfare, a 25-year-old from Raleigh, in a roadway near Young Avenue and Springwood Apartments. Callers to 911 stated that many shots rang out on that Saturday afternoon, and children were outdoors playing nearby.

Pair, 24, of 666 Vance St., Henderson, faces charges in a drive-by shooting on Walter Street, Henderson, that killed Judkins, a 16-year-old Northern Vance High School student, as he and another teenager scrambled to get in a household doorway. Pair was recently arrested and faces charges for being a felon with a firearm, plus drug charges related to heroin possession and distribution.

According to police, Benson, 25, of 858 Eastway Drive, Henderson, went into Morton’s home on Hamilton Street, shot and killed him “with malice aforethought.” Morton family members described him as absolutely harmless, a quiet and helpful person who used to tinker and fix things, and who in recent years endured under the burden some mobility restrictions.

Griffin and Assistant District Attorney John Hindsman said that they are preparing to move the four and other major cases toward trial. Macon, Champion, Pair and Benson remain jailed without bond.

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.