By Jack Stephens
Published in News on April 13, 2004 1:59 PM
Two half-brothers accused of gunning down two men outside of an illegal liquor house almost two years ago accepted 11th-hour plea bargains Monday. Both were sentenced to prison.
Quavoris Kendra Wellington, 25, of North Madison Avenue entered an Alford plea in Wayne County Superior Court to a charge of second-degree murder. Under an Alford plea, Welling-ton did not plead guilty but was treated as if he were guil-ty. He was sentenced to about nine to 12 years in prison.
William Daryl Braswell, 23, of North Drive also entered an Alford plea to assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill while inflicting serious injury. He was sentenced to about eight to 10 years.
The surviving victim, Cory Lamont Jackson, was brought to court in leg irons but did not speak. Since the shooting, the former Goldsboro resident was arrested, convicted in federal court of a firearms violation and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Jackson survived numerous gunshots wounds to his lower body during the predawn assault May 5, 2002, at the now-closed liquor house on Claridge Nursery Road. He was hospitalized for about two weeks and then received outpatient treatment.
The other victim, Derrick Lynn Artis, 25, of Fremont, died at the scene of numerous gunshot wounds.
The shooting may have been retaliation for the theft of money and drugs from the apartment of Braswell's girlfriend, detectives said. Neither victim had been charged with the crime, according to court records.
The men had argued several times in the week before the shooting, including once earlier that night, detectives said.
Both defendants had been charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder. If convicted of those charges, the most that either could have received would have been life in prison. Prosecutors had said in a preliminary hearing that they would not seek the death penalty.
Judge G.K. Butterfield Jr. of Wilson accepted the plea arrangement and sentenced Wellington to 114 to 146 months and Braswell to 93 to 121 months. Both men got sentences at the lower end of the scale.
Wellington could have been sentenced to about 20 to 25 years, and Braswell could have been sentenced to about 11 to 16 years.
Wellington also was ordered to pay $6,627 for Artis' funeral expenses, and Braswell was ordered to pay $9,881 for Jackson's medical expenses. Both defendants were denied work release.
Despite the shortened sentences, relatives of the victims were satisfied with how it turned out, said Detective Sgt. Mike Dale, the lead investigator. They said they appreciated the work of the Sheriff's Office and the District Attorney's Office and were "happy with how everyone kept in touch with them," Dale said.
As the dispute escalated among the men, the girlfriend, identified as Verne Allen, had bought 9-millimeter firearms for the defendants, detectives said.
When patrol deputies answered a shots-fired call at about 3:10 a.m., they said the scene was chaotic. Detectives were summoned. One of first officers to arrive, Sheriff Carey Winders, talked to Jackson and went with him to the hospital, where the victim identified the shooters.
When the defendants found out that they were being sought, they turned themselves in to authorities the next day, at about 5:30 p.m. May 6.
Detectives had said at least 30 eyewitnesses would not provide information about the shooting. But four or five witnesses cooperated with "solid" information, they said.
Later detectives went to the girlfriend's apartment on Courtyard Circle, and they found a shell casing for one of the weapons, a Cobray.
"Our allegations were that each man had a weapon," Capt. George Raecher said. "More than 45 shell casings were removed from the scene and sent to the State Bureau of Investigation lab for analysis.
Raecher said a majority of the shell casings had come from the Cobray.
The liquor house also was the site of an adjacent illegal dump that was publicized in the News-Argus shortly before the shootings. The landowner, Dick Raynor, closed the house after the shootings, detectives said. He died about a year ago.
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