Defendant takes stand in murder trial
By Jack Stephens
Published in News on April 19, 2005 1:49 PM
An emotional Dwight Sloan of Pikeville told a Wayne County Superior Court jury Monday he never intended to harm, shoot or kill Jamaal Rashaud Pearsall.
The 23-year-old Sloan, his voice breaking at times, took the stand to answer first-degree murder charges in connection with Pearsall's Aug. 24, 2003, shooting death.
Sloan said repeatedly to his lawyer, Geoff Hulse of Goldsboro, that he did not intend to shoot Pearsall.
Kolanda Kay Wooten
Dwight Eugene Sloan
When Sloan recounted the events of that night, he said as he covered his face and stuck the gun out of a car window on Edgerton Street, the firearm went off. He admitted he had pulled the trigger.
"Why?" asked Hulse.
"I don't know," Sloan replied.
"Was it your intent to shoot the car?" the lawyer asked.
"Was it your intent to shoot Mr. Pearsall?"
"No," Sloan answered.
The shooting stemmed from a comment by Sloan's cousins that Pearsall, 19, who lived on Maple Street, had stolen the defendant's $300 car stereo.
Sloan testified that during a confrontation near Pearsall's home, the victim told him: "I don't got your (stuff). Man, I don't even know you." At the time, Sloan said he was going to press charges against Pearsall.
Sloan said another person fired a handgun in the air on Maple Street. The gun jammed on a second shot. Sloan said the other man handed him the gun. They got back in the car and chased after Pearsall, who sped away.
After the shooting, Sloan's cousin and co-defendant, Kolanda Kay Wooten, the driver of the car, dropped Sloan off. Sloan threw away the gun and got a ride to his aunt's home in LaGrange. He testified that he told her, "I think I shot someone." Then, he said he waited for his parents, who took him to the police station.
Ms. Wooten, 19, of Courtyard Circle, also was charged with first-degree murder and discharge of a weapon into occupied property.
Hulse also called Sloan's aunt and father to testify about the events after the shooting. Betty Walker said Sloan was upset and was crying when he came to her home. The father, Lott Sloan, said his son was very upset when he turned himself in.
Ms. Wooten's lawyer, Michael Reece of Smithfield, did not put on a defense.
Assistant District Attorney Matt Delbridge put on a brief rebuttal case. Police Investigator Dwayne Dean disputed Sloan's comment about hiding his face as he shot. Dean said Sloan never made that comment during his interview. Dean also said Sloan said he was going to shoot at Pearsall, and he did shoot at him.
Delbridge voluntarily dismissed a charge of discharge of a weapon into occupied property -- Pearsall's car on Maple Street, because of insufficient evidence against Sloan. But he let stand the second count of discharge of a weapon on Edgerton Street, where the death occurred.
Delbridge said he will seek a first-degree murder conviction on the felony murder rule -- the commission of another felony crime, the shooting into occupied property, that occurred at the time of the murder.
Hulse also agreed to withdraw self-defense as a defense for the shooting.
Judge John W. Smith of Wilmington ruled that the jury of seven women and five men could convict Sloan of first- or second-degree murder or voluntary or involuntary manslaughter or the 12 could acquit him.
The four lawyers -- Delbridge and Assistant District Attorney Claud Ferguson for the state and Hulse and Reece -- will make their closing arguments today. At the conclusion, Smith will instruct the jury on the law before they begin their deliberations.
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