A Catawba man accused of a 2012 murder and subsequent burning of the victim’s body pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a prison term of at least 20 years during Catawba County Superior Court today (August 15).
36-year-old Jermaine Wilkes of Edna Street in Catawba pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, concealing or failing to report a death and burning personal property. He was convicted for the June 7, 2012 slaying of 22-year-old Brianne Mary Ginty.
Wilkes’ murder trial had been scheduled to begin today; however, following his guilty plea, the Honorable Robert T. Sumner, Superior Court Judge from Gaston County, sentenced Wilkes to serve 20 to 26 years in the North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections. Wilkes has been incarcerated in the Catawba County Detention Center since his arrest in June of 2012.
Ginty’s parents, Patrick and Susan, both addressed the court today. In a statement read by Assistant District Attorney Lance Sigmon, Patrick Ginty acknowledged the loss of a “daughter and friend” while asking the court to give Wilkes the maximum sentence possible to bring closure to the family.
On June 7, 2012, Firefighters from Sherrills Ford Fire & Rescue responded to a vehicle fire on Hopewell Church Road in Catawba and found a vehicle registered to Ginty severely burned and still smoldering. They also discovered skeletal remains inside the vehicle. The body was burned beyond recognition. DNA samples from the remains and from Ginty’s parents were used to confirm the victim’s identity.
Investigators responded to Ginty’s residence, located more than seven miles from the site where her burned car was found. They found that forced entry had been made into the home through a window.
Officers learned that Ginty’s boyfriend, Antoine Reid, had broken into her home while Wilkes was with him. Reid later left the house, but Wilkes remained at the residence with Ginty. During that time, an altercation occurred between Ginty and Wilkes that led to her death.
Blood, later identified as Ginty’s, was found on the floor of the living room. After developing Wilkes as a possible suspect, Catawba County Sheriff’s Officers found him walking along a road and took him into custody.
Wilkes initially denied any wrongdoing, but later admitted that he had moved Ginty’s body to the wooded area and burned it after she allegedly fell and hit her head when he struck her once. Defense Attorney Scott Reilly described it as an act of panic that led to a series of horrible decisions by his client.
Jason Beebe and Brian Kelly led the investigation for the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office, with assistance from the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation. Sigmon and Sean Baetjer handled the prosecution for the District Attorney’s Office.
31-year-old Samuel Wade Lawrence of 3rd Avenue Place S.E. and 37-year-old Joyce Melissa Styles of 10th Street S.W., both from Hickory, were arrested by Hickory Police shortly after 3 p.m. Friday (August 12). Lawrence was charged with felony breaking & entering a motor vehicle, while Styles was charged with felony aiding & abetting. Both were charged with misdemeanor larceny. Lawrence was also arrested on outstanding warrants for misdemeanor breaking & entering and assault on a female.
The two were charged in connection to an incident in which Hickory Police responded to the Fast & Fresh convenience store on Lenoir-Rhyne Boulevard S.E. in Hickory. About $600 in cigarettes (31 cartons) were stolen from a delivery truck in the store’s parking lot. 27 of those cartons were recovered in a nearby wooded area.
The suspects were arrested Friday on the 400 block of 1st Street S.W. in Hickory. They were taken into custody without incident. Lawrence was jailed under a $7,500 secured bond, while Styles was given a $2,500 unsecured bond. Lawrence remained in custody where he was scheduled to appear in court today. Styles has been released. She has a court date on September 14.
According to a statement released by the Iredell Co. Sheriff’s Office, on July 17 & 18, multiple lawn mowers were stolen from Progressive Power Equipment on the Wilkesboro Highway in Statesville.
One of the suspect vehicles appears to be a gold or champagne-colored newer model Dodge Ram quad cab (2500 or bigger) with running boards and fog lights. The truck was seen on the property at about 10 p.m. on July 17.
Authorities believe the suspect was casing the location at that time. The truck left and returned several hours later, at about 1:50 a.m. on the 18th. The truck was pulling a black enclosed trailer. Also present was a second suspect driving an unknown type of truck pulling an open trailer.
Both suspects are white males. One was wearing a black wig and gloves and the other suspect was wearing a hunting hood and gloves. The suspects left the business heading north on Highway 115 towards Wilkes County.
Anyone with information should contact Det. Meyer at 704-924-4025.
The Governor’s Office announced Friday (August 12) a $145,000 grant to help fund a key pedestrian bridge on the Middle Fork Greenway. The grant was funded by the North Carolina Department of Transportation Contingency Fund.
The 90-foot bridge will span the Middle Fork of the South Fork of the New River. It is part of the 6.5-mile Middle Fork Greenway connecting Boone to Blowing Rock. The bridge will also help provide access to the Blue Ridge Parkway and North Carolina’s cross-state Mountains to Sea Trail.
The new bridge will be made of laminate wood with a stone fascia. It will meet standards set by the National Park Service and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Construction will begin once other funding is finalized for a 1.3-mile stretch of the greenway that includes the bridge.
23-year-old Donovon Tyrell Lortz of 5th Avenue S.W. in Hickory was arrested by Hickory Police at 7:30 Sunday morning (August 14) on a long list of charges. The charges include speeding, driving while license revoked (two counts), driving while impaired, the sale of a schedule II controlled substance (two counts), possession with intent to manufacture, sell or deliver a schedule II controlled substance (two counts), the manufacture, sale, delivery or possession of a controlled substance within 1000 feet of a school (two counts) and the manufacture, sale, delivery or possession of a controlled substance within 1000 feet of a playground.
Lortz was initially arrested for D.W.I. and driving while license revoked. During the process, Officers found warrants issued in March of this year by the Catawba Co. Sheriff’s Office.
He was jailed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $52,500 secured bond. A first appearance was scheduled today with additional court dates on September 21 and October 12.
42-year-old Roncella Monique Huss of Sanders Place in Granite Falls was arrested Saturday (August 13) by Granite Falls Police on a felony warrant as a fugitive awaiting extradition to the State of Tennessee. Huss was placed in the Caldwell Co. Detention Facility under a $75,000 secured bond. She was scheduled to make a first appearance in District Court today (August 15) in Lenoir.
27-year-old Ronald Matthew Vinson of Timberwood Drive in Lenoir was arrested by Caldwell Co. Sheriff’s Officers Friday (August 12) on one felony count each of attempted larceny, possession of a stolen motor vehicle and larceny of a motor vehicle. He was taken to the Caldwell Co. Detention Facility under a $40,000 secured bond. A first appearance in District Court was set for today (August 15) in Lenoir.
18-year-old Tanu Lefoi Wilson of Wembley Drive in Newton has been arrested by Catawba Co. Sheriff’s Officers on charges of breaking & entering and larceny after breaking & entering. He was jailed yesterday (August 14) in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility with bond set at $5,000, secured. Wilson was scheduled to make a first appearance in District Court today in Newton.
30-year-old Jacque Demar Morrison of Horseshoe Lake Road, 62-year-old Robert Michael Burton of Car Farm Road and 39-year-old Tyron Tremaine Jackson of Babs Court, all from Lincolnton, were arrested Thursday (August 11) by Lincoln Co. Sheriff’s Officers for the sale of crack cocaine. Morrison and Jackson each face felony charges for the sale & delivery of a schedule II controlled substance and possession with intent to sell & deliver a schedule II controlled substance, four counts for Morrison and three counts for Jackson. Burton and Jackson were each charged with felony counts of conspiracy to sell or deliver a schedule II controlled substance, two counts for Burton and one count for Jackson. Burton was also charged with felony possession of cocaine and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.
Lincoln County Narcotics Detectives say the arrests were the result of citizens’ complaints concerning drug activity in the Buffalo Shoals / Car Farm Road area. Several investigations were launched, spanning a three-to-four month period. Surveillance and undercover techniques were used to purchase various amounts of crack cocaine from the individuals arrested. Detectives say the purchases occurred during daytime and nighttime hours at various locations in the area.
Following their arrests, all three suspects were jailed with bond for each set at $15,000, secured. The three men were scheduled to make first appearances in Lincoln County District Court on Friday (August 12).
29-year-old Rodolfo Joel Ulloa-Paz and 22-year-old Alan Israel Chavez-Cruz have been identified as the suspects in last Wednesday’s (August 10) chase that began in Charlotte and ended when the truck they were driving crashed in Catawba County. Ulloa-Paz was shot by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police at that time.
Ulloa-Paz remains in Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte where he is critical condition. He will likely face several felony charges. Chavez-Cruz was charged with two counts of attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon, one count of discharging a weapon into an occupied vehicle, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, one count of robbery with a dangerous weapon, one count of conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon and one count of eluding arrest.
Chavez-Cruz was has been jailed under a $460,000 secured bond. A third suspect, 19-year-old Erik Lopez, was also charged in connection to the case. He faces one felony count of possession of a weapon of mass destruction. He was given a $20,000 secured bond. Chavez-Cruz and Lopez are due in court today (August 15).
No Officers were injured during the incident. Two people were shot in Charlotte during a carjacking as the incident began.
Some Morganton and Burke County residents on the City of Morganton’s water system may have found a stake in their yard this morning with information about water testing. City staff wants to make sure residents know the test is not from the city. The test is from a local company that sells water filtration systems.
According to a press release issued by the city, the city’s water is safe. The water exceeds all state and federal regulations and recently received North Carolina’s Area-Wide Optimization Award for a seventh straight year. According to Water Treatment Plant Superintendent Jason Green, the “tests” are really the start of a sales solicitation.
The city already offers free water tests year-round, and those tests don’t come with a sales pitch.
Residents can read the city’s latest water quality report online here or call the Water Resources Department at 828-438-5276.
36-year-old Eric Jay Ramirez of Homestead Drive in Hickory was arrested by Hickory Police at three o’clock yesterday afternoon (August 11) on one felony count each for the sale of cocaine and possession with intent to manufacture a counterfeit schedule II controlled substance.
He was taken into custody at H.P.D. headquarters and given a $3,000 unsecured bond. A first appearance in District Court was set for today in Newton.
18-year-old Damieon Michael Horton of Highway 321 in Newton was arrested by Hickory Police at about 11:40 a.m. yesterday (August 11) on a bill of indictment for felony breaking & entering and a misdemeanor larceny charge. The warrants for his arrest were issued in June of this year. The complainant listed on the H.P.D. arrest report is the Catawba Co. Clerk of Court.
Horton was jailed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under an $11,000 secured bond. A Superior Court appearance on the B&E charge was set for today, with another court date on the larceny charge coming up on August 24.
32-year-old Rhiannon Nicole Forrest of Porter Road, 37-year-old Ai Chai See of East Broad Street, 25-year-old Spring Marie Fassett of Cedar Ridge Loop and 34-year-old Michael Allen Walkup of Hillsdale Lane, all from Statesville, along with 33-year-old Tony Lee of 1st Avenue in Hickory, have all been arrested on meth-related charges.
Shortly after 1 p.m. on August 9, Iredell Co. Sheriff’s Officers with the Aggressive Criminal Enforcement (A.C.E) Team went to the Brookwood Inn on East Broad Street after learning that a wanted person was staying in a room. When Deputies made contact with someone in the room, they smelled the strong odor of burned methamphetamine and saw a smoke cloud coming from the room.
When Deputies entered the room, they found eight people hiding inside. Deputies searched the room and found several grams of methamphetamine, over 250 grams of a cutting agent to prepare meth for sale, several plastic bags, digital scales and other drug paraphernalia.
Tony Lee and Michael Walkup were issued citations for possession of drug paraphernalia and were released. Kaw Yang was arrested on outstanding warrants for a domestic violence protection order violation and two simple assault charges. He was held without bond. Rhiannon Forrest, Spring Fassett and Ai Chai See were arrested and charged with possession with intent to manufacture, sell or deliver methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia. They were each given a $20,000 secured bond. Yang has a court date on August 29. Forrest, Fassett and See are due in court on August 25.
Forrest is currently out on a $250,000 secured bond for two counts of trafficking methamphetamine and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
49-year-old Kenneth Eugene Hamilton was arrested today (Friday, August 12) by authorities in Burke County. He's charged with felony possession with intent to manufacture schedule II controlled substance. Hamilton was placed in jail in Morganton under $10,000 secured bond. A first court appearance was scheduled for today.
Caldwell County Big Sweep is scheduled for Saturday, October 1 and volunteers are being sought. Individuals or groups are encouraged to register at the Caldwell County website, www.caldwellcountync.org by clicking on Departments and then Soil and Water Conservation.
Caldwell Soil & Water has been organizing Caldwell County Big Sweep for 18 years. According to a news release issued by Caldwell County, through the years, approximately 4,184 volunteers have collected 7,709 bags of trash weighing approximately 229,241 pounds, along 15.8 miles of streams and lakeshores throughout the county.
Caldwell County Big Sweep Waterways Cleanup is held every year the first Saturday in October. Volunteers are needed to work between September 17 and October 9. All trash bags, gloves, grabbers, hand sanitizer, drinks, and snacks are provided for each volunteer. Pickup sites will be assigned based on severity of location and the number of volunteers.
For more information, please contact the Caldwell Soil & Water Conservation District at 828-758-1111.
23-year-old Gabriel Quinten Corley of Court Street in Jacksonville, NC was arrested Thursday (August 11) by Granite Falls Police Officers. He's charged on a bill of indictment with felony obtaining property by false pretense and misdemeanor possession of stolen property. Corley was detained in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $5,000 secured bond. A Superior Court appearance is scheduled for September 12.
42-year-old Charles Phillip Harris of Blackburn Court in Granite Falls was arrested Thursday (August 11) by Caldwell County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with identity fraud. Following the arrest, Harris was locked up in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $10,000 secured bond. No court date was listed.
The Caldwell County Board of Commissioners meets Monday night in regular session. There are two public hearings on the agenda. Both hearings are scheduled to receive comments on Economic Development Incentives. One is for Burns Wood Products and the second is for Project A-Frame.
Under Items For Decision, Caldwell Commissioners will vote on the authorization to accept a $2,500 grant from the North Carolina Foundation for Soil and Water Conservation. In addition, Commissioners will vote on the approval of the detention center food plan and equipment purchase.
Monday's Caldwell County Board of Commissioners meeting will get underway at 6 p.m. in the City/County Meeting Room at the Alden E. Starnes Administrative Building in downtown Lenoir.
24-year-old Russell Allen Young of Stirewalt Drive in Granite Falls was arrested Thursday (August 11) by Caldwell County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with felony statutory sex offense with a child and first-degree forcible sex offense. Young was jailed in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $100,000 secured bond. A District Court appearance is scheduled for Monday (August 15).