12/11/07 — Owner will not have to answer charges

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Owner will not have to answer charges

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on December 11, 2007 2:08 PM

A Selma man who caused the death of a Dudley man he confronted at his home in the process of an alleged burglary will not face prosecution, court officials said.

Cornelius Brown, 40, of Dudley, died when a truck driven by John Reid, 37, of Hawkins Road, Selma, pinned Brown between a fence post and Brown's Oldsmobile, Johnston County law enforcement officers said.

Brown and Mark McNair, 46, of Brentwood Drive, allegedly were in the act of stealing equipment from Reid's home when he returned and discovered them preparing to leave.

A Johnston County grand jury decided Monday not to bring charges against Reid, who said he accidentally drove his vehicle into another, fatally injuring Brown.

Johnston County District Attorney Susan Doyle did not return calls for comment before sending the case to a grand jury on Monday.

She could not immediately be reached today.

A Johnston County court clerk said this morning that Mrs. Doyle brought Reid's case before the private grand jury room as a presentment, rather than as an indictment.

People accused of crimes can be brought to trial by indictment, presentment or information.

In a presentment, grand jurors consider a name and a crime, but without a bill of indictment prepared beforehand by the prosecutor.

That means that Mrs. Doyle left the decision entirely in the hands of the 12-member private grand jury.

According to Johnston County Sheriff Spokeswoman Tammy Amaon, Reid came home to find Brown's Oldsmobile speeding from his driveway on the afternoon of Nov. 8.

Reid told Johnston authorities that he cornered Brown's Oldsmobile near a fence and spoke with Brown, of Bass Road.

Brown stepped out to talk to Reid while McNair stayed in the vehicle.

Reid called 911 from a mobile phone, and Brown jumped out of the vehicle as if to run, Mrs. Amaon said.

Reid told police that upon seeing the movement, his foot slipped off the brake and onto the accelerator, propelling his truck forward and hitting the sedan, pinning Brown between the Oldsmobile's door and a fence post, causing internal injuries that proved fatal after Brown was airlifted to Duke Medical Center in Durham.

Mrs. Amaon said the robbery involved an auger belonging to Reid. Also found in Brown's trunk was a generator of unknown origin, Mrs. Amaon said.

Reid told law officers that his home had been repeatedly robbed over the past year.

Telephone calls to Reid's home today went unanswered.

Attempts to reach Brown's family members and co-workers also were unsuccessful.

McNair is charged with larceny, second-degree trespassing and felony possession of burglary tools.