08/26/05 — Ex-inmate says Wilson told him about shots

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Ex-inmate says Wilson told him about shots

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on August 26, 2005 1:49 PM

A former Wayne County Jail inmate says first-degree murder defendant Leandren Andre Wilson told him about last summer's shooting of Corey Levon Grantham near a Goldsboro nightclub.

Mitchell Percell testified Thursday in Wayne County Superior Court that Wilson said he was in a parking lot where many guys were shooting and so "he (Wilson) started shooting."

Percell is serving a six-year sentence for numerous break-ins in Johnston County and has similar pending charges in Wayne County. He said he was housed about two months in the same cell block in the Goldsboro jail with Wilson.

Leandren Andre Wilson


Grantham, 26, of Nor-Am Road, Pikeville, was fatally shot July 11, 2004, near Clingman Street and Corporate Drive, soon after the adjacent Club Paradise closed. Wilson, 28, of Kornegay Street, was identified as the suspect and was arrested a few days later in Benson. If he is convicted of first-degree murder, Wilson would not face the death penalty, but would be sentenced to life in prison.

Percell said Wilson told him friends gave him the gun. After the shooting, the witness said Wilson said he went to a liquor house and then was taken to Benson "because the police were looking for him for a shooting that happened at a club." Percell said Wilson said he was going to catch a train to Detroit to meet his family and wasn't coming back. Percell said Wilson said his mother told him that police were looking for him and that he should stay away.

Then Assistant District Attorney Jan Kroboth asked Percell what happened when Grantham was shot. Percell said, "He hit the ground."

Mrs. Kroboth also asked Percell what else Wilson talked out, including shooting, gangs and drugs. But defense lawyer Louis Jordan objected.

"This a turf battle -- that's what it's all about," the prosecutor argued.

Mrs. Kroboth recalled the testimony of Tory Thompson, who had said two groups had staked out areas in Goldsboro for their control.

But Judge Jay D. Hockenbury of Wilmington allowed the jury to hear only the comment about guns.

Percell said Wilson said, "I like guns. Everywhere I go, I carry my guns. I sleep with my guns."

During cross-examination, Percell admitted he had been charged with 27 crimes.

Earlier, the third eyewitness to the shooting, Corey Smith, testified he and his girlfriend, Antoinette Saul, the victim's aunt, had tried to get Grantham to back away from a confrontation with Wilson.

"The next thing I know, gunshots rang out," said Smith, who has been imprisoned for a later felony drug conviction. "We took cover and ran back to Antoinette's car. Then, I looked up and saw Corey hit the ground."

Smith said he did not know the shooter's identity but described him as a short black man.

The cause of death was a single gunshot wound to the head, said the state's associate chief medical examiner.

Dr. Deborah L. Radisch, who performed the autopsy, testified that the wound was pretty severe. "In my opinion, death would have occurred in three to eight minutes. ... He would have lost consciousness almost immediately."

Dr. Radisch, a forensic pathologist, said the bullet entered the left forehead near the eyebrow and exited on the left back of the head. The bullet was never recovered. She said it traveled slightly from right to left and slightly downward. She disputed Jordan's contention that the bullet traveled on a sharp downward angle.

Goldsboro Police Officer Robert T. Smith, an evidence technician, identified items recovered and photographs that he took at the scene. He recovered two assault-rifle shells and 10 9-millimeter shells near in the grass between Clingman Street and the Quality Inn parking lot. He testified he did not measure the distance from the shells to the victim, whose body was found in the grass. But he said he measured the distance of the shells from his reference point, a power pole.

Smith said he found no shell casings in the street or in the club's parking lot. He also noted a revolver would not eject shell casings.

The day's other witness, Special Agent Pat Matthews of the State Bureau of the Investigation, said she attended the autopsy and collected Grantham's clothes.

The state may finish its case today with a few more law-enforcement witnesses. But the trial will continue next week.