07/24/07 — Police asked for new status in shooting

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Police asked for new status in shooting

By Lee Williams
Published in News on July 24, 2007 1:45 PM

A decision to change the status of an autopsy report for a man killed in April from homicide to undetermined was made at the request of Goldsboro police, State Medical Examiner's Office officials say.

Dr. John Butts, the pathologist who examined the body of 23-year-old Raheim Kornegay of Lincoln Drive, ruled his death a "homicide," and detailed his findings in a June 12 report.

However, 15 days after the report was completed, Butts' finding was changed to "undetermined." The change, which was approved by Butts, was completed on June 27, officials at the Chapel Hill office said.

Butts said the designation was changed after he received a phone call from officials at the Goldsboro Police Department who "expressed concern" about his initial findings.

"We talked with law enforcement, and they said that no one could say with any degree of certainty that he shot himself or someone else shot him," Butts said. "They basically told us that they were unable to determine whether his wound was self-inflicted or not."

Goldsboro police responded to 602 Courtyard Circle on April 22 and found Kornegay, a father of three, suffering from a gunshot wound to the chest at his girlfriend, Sharon Sheppard's home.

Police were originally told that Kornegay shot himself. They also received conflicting reports that someone shot Kornegay.

The gun used in the shooting vanished, and information collected during the case was inconclusive. Miss Sheppard was questioned and called a person of interest but never charged in the case.

Miss Sheppard was shot and killed four days later outside McIntyre Funeral Home on South George Street. She was there to say goodbye to Kornegay, the father of her infant son, Rahkeim.

Those who knew the couple say Miss Sheppard played a role in Kornegay's death. However, her mother, Carol Sheppard, refuted this claim. She said her daughter told her she did not kill Kornegay.

Based on the evidence collected at the scene, witness statements and autopsy results, Butts said police remain unsure about the case.

Initially, the case was being treated as a possible homicide, but at some point there was a change.

"I thought they still believed that, but they were unable to say with any degree of certainty that it was a homicide or suicide, so we went ahead and amended it to reflect what the investigation showed," he said.

Butts said it's not uncommon for medical examiners to change a designation if new information surfaces to support a change.

"We do this multiple times a year," he said.

Kornegay was shot once in the chest with a medium-caliber handgun. No gun residue was found on Kornegay's hands. However, soot from the gun was found on his body.

Soot found on the body showed the gun was fired at close range, which made it difficult to determine whether Kornegay's death was a suicide or a homicide, the doctor added.

"He has a wound that he could have done himself," Butts said.