04/23/07 — Gang member convicted of murder

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Gang member convicted of murder

By Lee Williams
Published in News on April 23, 2007 1:45 PM

A 21-year-old member of a Hispanic gang was ordered to serve a maximum of 26 years in prison for murdering a Wallace man at a tire shop last summer, a judge decided last week.

William Salmeron of Owings Mills, Md., pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the June 22, 2006, shooting death of Victor Emanuel Wilkins Bautista in Duplin County Superior Court Thursday.

Duplin County Superior Court Judge Allen Cobb sentenced Salmeron to serve a maximum of 318 months in prison for the crimes, Duplin County District Attorney G. Dewey Hudson said.

Duplin County Chief Assistant District Attorney Ernie Lee prosecuted the case. Attorney Freddie Hall represented Salmeron.

The charges stem from allegations Salmeron and another man identified as "Rebelde," went to Exodo's Tire Service in Wallace and shot Bautista. Both suspects belong to MS-13, a Hispanic gang, whose presence is on the rise in Duplin, Wayne and other areas in the state.

"Bautista was shot approximately 10 times with two weapons, a 9 mm handgun and a .32-caliber handgun," Hudson said. "The victim was armed with a .25-caliber handgun."

The next day, Salmeron, Rebelde and a juvenile were stopped in a vehicle by the Duplin County Sheriff's Office. Salmeron and the juvenile were taken into custody after officers allegedly found a 9 mm handgun on Salmeron and a .32-caliber handgun on the juvenile.

No weapons were found Rebelde and he was released, Hudson said.

"At the time of the arrest of Salmeron, there was insufficient evidence to hold Rebelde since no weapon was found on him," he said. "However, after further investigation, a warrant was issued against Rebelde for murder on June 28, 2006, which remains unserved."

Salmeron faces another murder charge in Baltimore County, Md.

Hudson said he believes this played a part in Salmeron's desire to take a guilty plea in the Duplin County case.

Hudson said Bautista's family members are pleased with the outcome. He added the work of the Wallace Police Department, Duplin County Sheriff's Office and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations earned a conviction for the state.

He also thanked the judge for his ruling in the case.

"This sentence will ensure that the defendant remains in prison in North Carolina for at least 20 years in addition to any sentence that the defendant may receive in Maryland," he said.