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News (795)

We have more information on an arrest we first reported on last week. A man suspected of drug trafficking in Burke County was arrested by multiple agencies after they received a tip regarding the location of the suspect. 39-year-old Davy Leonard Goodman of Greentree Acres Road in Valdese was arrested and charged with two felony counts of trafficking of drugs and one misdemeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia. Police and court records also show Goodman faces counts of felony probation violation and driving while impaired.

Last Tuesday (May 5) the Burke County Narcotics Task Force, United States Marshals Task Force, and Burke County Sheriff’s Office served warrants on Goodman for the previously mentioned drug offenses. Acting on a tip, Goodman was found at a residence at 1890 Bristol Creek Avenue, Morganton. Goodman was taken into custody without incident and placed in the Burke-Catawba District Confinement Facility under $78,000 secured bond. A Superior Court appearance is scheduled for June 1, Goodman is also scheduled to appear in District Court September 29.

Additional charges against Goodman are pending.

The Honorable Hugh B. Lewis, Superior Court Judge from Mecklenburg County, rejected on Friday (May 8) a contention by defense counsel that 37-year-old John Spencer Brown of Granite Falls had ineffective counsel during his 2003 second-degree murder trial, however, he ruled that the defendant is entitled to a new sentencing hearing.

Brown is currently serving 22 to 29 years in custody of the North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections for second-degree murder in the August 2002 death of 7-year-old Zach Davis from injuries sustained in a motor vehicle crash. He was convicted by a jury of second-degree murder and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon on May 23, 2003, and has served nearly 12 years of his sentence.

Davis died from injuries sustained in an Aug. 9, 2002, crash that occurred when his mother Angie Bass was taking him to Jenkins Elementary School. As Bass and her son were traveling along N.C. 127 around 7:45 a.m. their vehicle was struck by one driven by Brown, who crossed the center line while impaired. Bass suffered serious injuries in the crash, as did her son, who died the next day of head injuries.

Brown’s vehicle also struck the vehicle of Sherry Sluss, who suffered significant injuries as a result of the crash.

The defendant’s blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit at the time of the crash, and there was Xanax as well as traces of cocaine in his system.

Brown was 24 years old when the crash occurred and had a DWI and an unsafe movement conviction on his record prior to the crash. He has earned a number of infractions against him while serving his time in DAC custody. Brown’s projected release date is June 4, 2026.

Brown was seeking a reduction in his sentence or a new trial. His motion cited ineffective assistance by his trial counsel and appellate attorney as well as issues with aggravating factors cited by the judge when his original sentence was imposed following his conviction in May 2003.

His attorney, Lauren Miller of North Carolina Prisoner Legal Service, Inc., argued that Brown’s trial counsel was ineffective in failing to object to expert testimony regarding the speed his truck was traveling the day of the fatal crash. She also noted that Brown’s appellate attorney did not raise the question of ineffective counsel, nor were aggravating factors given to the jury by the trial judge for their consideration in reaching a verdict.

She further noted clerical errors in the judgment that she believed would entitle Brown to a new sentencing hearing.

District Attorney David Learner countered, stating that even if the testimony regarding speed was suppressed, there still was overwhelming evidence against Brown to support his conviction. He also pointed out that the trial transcript showed Brown’s trial attorney had objected to the testimony regarding speed.

“I would submit the defendant got a full and fair trial. If there was an error, it was harmless beyond any imagination,” he said, noting evidence of impairing drugs that were in Brown’s system and that he had been cut off from alcohol service at two different bars just hours before the crash. “The factors are clear-cut. There’s no reason to think a jury would have decided otherwise.”

Reiterating that the evidence the jury heard in Brown’s trial was overwhelming to justify the sentence he received, Assistant District Attorney Sean McGinnis added, “Clearly, the actions of the defendant that morning on Highway 127 impacted what happened to Zach and led to his death.”

Lewis, who indicated there was “overwhelming evidence to support the conviction,” ordered the state to schedule a new sentencing hearing due to changes in the law which could have impacted Brown’s original sentence. A jury will be convened to hear the matter in Catawba County Superior Court.

A date for the hearing has not been determined.

“We welcome the opportunity to have a new sentencing hearing for Mr. John Spencer Brown,” Learner said. “We want to see justice is done … for Zach Davis, Angie Bass and Sherry Sluss. They have the right to have justice done just as much as Mr. John Spencer Brown.”

42-year-old William Ernest Smith of Hildebran pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in Burke County Superior Court yesterday (May 7). He was also convicted as an habitual felon. Smith was sentenced to seven-to-10 years in the custody of the North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections.

On June 1 of last year, Burke County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to a “shots fired” report at a mobile home park in the county. Neighbors said Smith had fired a shotgun earlier, but had since left the area.

When Smith returned, Smith’s girlfriend gave Officers consent to search the mobile home. They found a sawed-off shotgun by the bed. Smith denied possessing the gun, but his girlfriend contradicted his statement. Three months later the girlfriend said the gun was hers and that Smith did not have possession of it.

Burke County Sheriff’s Officer Isaac Propst investigated the case and Frank Webster handled the prosecution for the District Attorney’s Office with the Honorable Robert C. Ervin, Superior Court Judge from Burke County, presiding.

28-year-old Robert Wayne Thomas of Hickory was given an active prison sentence of eight-to-12 years and ordered to pay $6,500 in restitution during Burke County Superior Court yesterday (May 7). Thomas pleaded guilty to felony breaking & entering, two counts of felony larceny, felony possession of stolen goods and two counts of felony breaking & entering a motor vehicle. He also was prosecuted as a habitual felon.

Thomas stole a saw from a storage building on December 2, 2013, broke into two cars on December 25, 2013 and stole jewelry valued at $1,500 and checks from his mother on June 30, 2014. At least some of the stolen property was found in his possession. Thomas confessed to his involvement in the cases.

The cases were investigated by Jared Ball and Melanie Robinson with the Burke County Sheriff’s Office. David Swanson handled the prosecution for the District Attorney’s Office with the Honorable Robert C. Ervin, Superior Court Judge from Burke County, presiding.

Thomas will serve his sentence in the custody of the North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections.

Friday, 08 May 2015 14:07

Hickory Man Charged as Habitual Felon

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40-year-old Kevin Jermaine McDaniel of 25th Street Place S.W. in Hickory was arrested by Hickory Police at 11:45 a.m. yesterday (May 7). He was arrested as an habitual felon.

The charge comes in connection to the September 2013 theft of a motor scooter from a residence on 7th Avenue S.W. in Hickory. McDaniel was initially charged with possession of stolen goods.

He was taken into custody without incident at a Family Dollar store in Newton. McDaniel’s name was removed from the National Crime Information Center database. He was processed and released under a written promise to appear in court. A Superior Court appearance was scheduled for today in Newton.

Friday, 08 May 2015 13:54

Accident On Interstate 40 Ties Up Traffic

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An accident has tied up traffic this afternoon on Interstate 40. The North Carolina State Highway Patrol has responded to the accident, which they report occurred between mile markers 119 and 120 in the eastbound lanes. The accident happened at approximately 1p.m. Eastbound traffic was diverted to the Henry River exit. No details were available on the accident as of mid-afternoon.

32-year-old Candace Lee Reid of Scaley Bark Drive in Salisbury was arrested by Hickory Police just before midnight last night (May 7) on one felony count of robbery with firearms or other dangerous weapons and one count of speeding to elude arrest with two aggravating factors. She was also charged with misdemeanor counts of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and hit & run with property damage.

Events leading to her arrest unfolded as Officers responded to the Deluxe Inn in Hickory looking for a suspicious vehicle that was reportedly involved in a robbery in Iredell County. Officers saw the vehicle, a 2014 Chevy Cruz, pull into the parking lot. Police attempted to stop the vehicle, but it accelerated towards the Officers and pulled onto Highway 70 S.W. where it hit a taxicab and fled.

Officers followed the vehicle, lost sight of it, but then found it again on the 1400 block of 2nd Avenue N.W. A second vehicle stop was attempted, but the Chevy again sped away. Officers gave pursuit, but again lost sight of the vehicle.

It was then found, unoccupied, on the 500 block of 12th Street Drive N.W. Officers then found Candace Lee Reid hiding near the vehicle, at crouching in a wooded area at the top of a hill. She was taken into custody without further incident.

Reid complained of an unspecified injury. She was taken to Frye where she was treated and released back into Police custody.

The initial “be on the lookout” call from Iredell County stated that there were two females in the Chevrolet. It’s not clear if Hickory Police ever saw a second person in the vehicle. No one else was present when Reid was arrested.

Reid was placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $31,900 secured bond. An appearance in District Court was set for today in Hickory.

59-year-old Terry Lee Shook of Highway 16 North in Conover was arrested by Hickory Police shortly after 10 p.m. Wednesday on one felony count of speeding to elude arrest and misdemeanor counts of possession of drug paraphernalia and driving while impaired. He was also charged with driving while license permanently revoked. In addition, the N.C. State Highway Patrol charged Shook with felony hit & run with failure to stop for personal injury.

He was arrested after Officers responded to reports of a hit & run. Officers saw a white work van matching the suspect vehicle description traveling south on 2nd Street S.E. The Officer pulled in behind the van, activating the patrol vehicle’s blue light and siren. The van did not stop.

As Officers followed, the van ran off the road several times. It came to a stop at 10th Avenue S.E. and 3rd Street S.E. because of a vehicle blocking its path at a stop sign. The van was then unable to continue as the result of a wheel that had come off.

The van was involved in at least three incidents before Police located it, running off the road and striking multiple utility poles. Shook was not injured, but was described as extremely intoxicated. He refused treatment by E.M.S.

Terry Shook’s employer is listed on Police reports as Terry’s Roofing. It’s not clear if the work van he was driving was a Terry’s Roofing van.

Following his arrest, Shook was placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $18,500 secured bond. He was scheduled to appear in District Court today (April 8) in Hickory.

Friday, 08 May 2015 10:35

Victim in Fatal Hickory Crash Identified

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A man killed in a fatal, single-vehicle crash yesterday (May 7) in Hickory has been identified as 55-year-old Randy Clifford Crouse of Conover. The accident occurred just after 1 p.m. Thursday near the intersection of 9th Avenue Place N.E. and 9th Street N.E.

A small, four-door sedan driven by Crouse was traveling west on 9th Avenue N.E. when it went off the side of the roadway and up an embankment. The vehicle went airborne, crossed 9th Street, went through a fence and came to rest against a private residence. The fence apparently prevented the vehicle from entering the house.

Crouse was extricated from the vehicle and transported to Frye Regional Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

No one else was in the vehicle and no other vehicles were involved in the crash.

37-year-old Jeremiah Lane Hightower was arrested Thursday (May 7) by Burke County Sheriff’s Officers. He was charged with felony breaking and entering. Hightower is also facing counts of probation violation, habitual felon, and resist, delay, or obstruct an officer. He’s being held in jail in Morganton under a total bond of $126,050. A Superior Court date is set for May 18.