04/14/05 — Death scene witness tells of pop sound

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Death scene witness tells of pop sound

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on April 14, 2005 1:48 PM

A witness told jurors that he heard a popping sound just before an out-of-control car -- carrying the dying Jamaal Rashaud Pearsall -- crashed on Edgerton Street.

Three people who witnessed the crash testified this week in the first-degree murder trial of two people accused of killing Pearsall, who was shot to death on Aug. 24, 2003.

Dwight Eugene Sloan, 23, and Kolanda Kay Wooten, 19, are accused of Pearsall's murder. They could be sentenced to life in prison if they are found guilty.

Prosecutors say Wooten, who was involved with Pearsall, convinced Sloan to shoot him.

Donald Moore testified in Wayne Superior Court that he heard a pop, went to his front door and saw a white car coming down Edgerton Street, then heard a cracking noise. He said he went back to the door and saw that a little blue car had crashed into a parked car across from St. Mary Catholic Church.

Moore's son, Donald Hall, said he witnessed the crash, went over to the car and recognized Pearsall. He was one of several people who called 911.

Pearsall was taken to Wayne Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Hall said that he knew Sherquanda Fields to be Pearsall's girlfriend. Fields testified earlier in the trial.

Another neighbor, George Strickland, testified that he saw a blue car coming down Edgerton Street. He said that he saw the white car pull alongside the blue car and then saw someone reach out with a gun and shoot a man in the chest. The white car then passed the blue car, sped through a stop sign at Jefferson Avenue and disappeared, he said.

"It was all over in a few seconds," Strickland said.

Defense lawyer Geoff Hulse tried to discredit Strickland's testimony during his cross-examination of police Officer Thomas Collins. When Collins interviewed Strickland after the wreck, Hulse pointed out that the officer had written in his report that Strickland had said a white car had pulled alongside a black car.

A black car, belonging to a member of the church, was struck by Pearsall's careening vehicle.

Nora Robinson, who was visiting relatives on Maple Street, one block south of Edgerton Street, testified that she saw a blue car speed away with a white car in pursuit. The vehicles turned left onto Taylor Street, she said, where she lost sight of them.

Mrs. Robinson said that earlier she had seen a man behind a tree with a gun and went outside to bring her one-year-old son inside, where he would be safe. When she went outside a second time, she said, she saw the man walking away, carrying a gun and yelling, "I'm going to kill that ****** ******."

After the crash, Mrs. Robinson said she went over to the car and saw a dead man inside.

She identified the driver of the white car as Ms. Wooten.

The white car, a Pontiac Bonneville, was registered to Ms. Wooten's aunt, Geraldine Sutton Parker of Goldsboro. Parker testified that her daughter, Leanne Sutton, had asked to borrow the car that Sunday afternoon. Mrs. Parker then gave the keys to Ms. Wooten, she said. About two hours later, her daughter returned the car.

During cross-examination, Mrs. Parker said Sloan, her nephew, was a quiet man. She told defense lawyer Michael Reece that Ms. Wooten, her niece, also was a good person.

Goldsboro police Cpl. Marissa Davis, the first officer to arrive at the scene, testified that she saw that a blue Honda with a man slumped over the passenger seat that had crashed into a black car.

Investigator Paul Van Wijk said he found the white Pontiac on Courtyard Circle. The hood was still very hot and he said he smelled brake fluid. He said Mrs. Parker told him that she owned it and had given it to Ms. Wooten at 1 p.m. and got the keys back at 2:45 p.m.

Assistant District Attorney Matt Delbridge was expected to continue presenting the state's case today, with other law-enforcement witnesses taking the stand. Judge John W. Smith of Wilmington is hearing the case.