07/06/05 — Sheriff: Eric Lane said he deserved to die

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Sheriff: Eric Lane said he deserved to die

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on July 6, 2005 1:45 PM

An emotional Sheriff Carey Winders said murder defendant Eric Glenn Lane said during an interview, "Yes, I deserve to die."

Winders was the fourth defense witness to take the stand Tuesday in the murder trial of the man accused in the kidnap, rape and murder of 5-year-old Precious Ebony Whitfield.

Winders was questioned by defense lawyer Glenn Barfield of Goldsboro about Detective Sgt. Mike Kabler's interview with Lane. Winders said he saw part of the exchange.

The sheriff, the father of three daughters, said Lane, a 33-year-old electrician, was asked what should happen to someone who commits a crime like this. He said Lane answered, "I don't know."

But on cross examination by District Attorney Branny Vickory, Winders said Lane said later that he deserved to die.

If Lane is convicted of the first-degree murder that occurred May 17, 2002, then the jury also would decide his punishment, life in prison without parole or the death penalty.

Lawyers Barfield and Richard McNeil of Jacksonville will resume their case today in Wayne County Superior Court.

The prosecution finished its case Tuesday morning with two final witnesses -- Special Agent Jim Gregory of the State Bureau of Investigation and DNA expert Shawn Weiss.

Weiss testified that a half-inch hair found on the girl's body had DNA evidence from Lane and the little girl.

Gregory, a trace evidence expert, said the duct tape found on the blue tarpaulin and white trash bag that held the little girl's body matched a roll of tape that was recovered from Lane's home on Brandywine Drive in the Patetown community.

Precious' body was found by three people fishing in Nahunta Creek from the Airport Road bridge on May 19, 2002, two days after she had walked away from the home of family friends, a few doors from Lane's home.

Gregory said an end of tape taken from the trash bag and several ends of tape taken from the tarp "were at one time joined together."

Gregory later showed a diagram of the duct tape to the jury of how the ends matched. Judge Gary Trawick of Burgaw came down from the bench to see the diagram, and Barfield moved from the defense table.

The agent also explained photographs that he had taken of Precious' clothes, including her panties that, he said, appeared to have been cut with a knife.

During cross examination, Barfield asked Gregory why he did not photograph the tape. The agent said he could not keep the tape in place and stretched and, therefore, would not have had a fair and accurate picture.

During Vickory's direct examination of Gregory, Barfield objected to the agent's description of examining duct tape. After arguments with the jury absent, Trawick ruled that Gregory was qualified to give an expert opinion on the issue.

When the prosecution's case ended, Barfield also argued that the murder was not premeditated. But Vickory responded that Precious had been placed in the trash bag alive, leaving her private areas exposed. The D.A. also argued that no blood was found in Lane's home because he had taken ample precautions. The defense request was denied.

Before Winders testified, Kabler, Detective Sgt. Shawn Harris and Capt. George Raecher answered questions about their roles in the investigation.