11/20/08 — Davis gets 30 years after plea to murder

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Davis gets 30 years after plea to murder

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on November 20, 2008 1:46 PM


Terreakus Antonio Davis, 25, of Mount Olive accepts a plea bargain amounting to 30 years for killing one man and injuring another on March 9, 2007.

Donald Wayne Graham Sr. stood near the front center bench of Wayne County Superior Court Wednesday afternoon and faced his son's killer.

The Grahams, their family and friends had nearly filled the center aisle of Courtroom No. 5, waiting to hear a verdict.

Some of them wept. Others held their heads in their hands. Many simply stared at the defendant, Terreakus Antonio Davis, 25.

They quietly conferred with each other before a long pause just after 2 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, as Davis prepared to take a plea bargain.

The plea deal was for 30 years incarceration, in exchange for pleading guilty to second-degree murder instead of the original charge of first-degree murder.

As part of the deal, Davis also would plead guilty to assault in secret and assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury against victim Deon Blake Graham and his brother, Donald Wayne Graham.

As Superior Court Judge Thomas D. Haigwood proceeded through the formalities, Assistant District Attorney Matt Delbridge asked to allow the victim's father to speak.

Later, the defendant would be allowed to speak as well, and his comments would cause the family gathered to erupt in emotion, with some leaving the courtroom.

"You have cost us," Graham Sr. said to the defendant. "(We must) raise his daughter without a father. You have caused his wife to be without a husband. You have caused a lot of pain.

"But the amazing thing to me is that God would allow me to forgive you and not hold that against you. My prayer is that God be with you ... and God bless you throughout your endeavors."

Then the mother of the victims in the March 9, 2007, murder and assault was allowed to speak.

"My son (Deon) was a hardworking, loving man. He loved his daughter so much. He loved his job working at Cherry Hospital," Mrs. Graham said. "Deon, he asked you to stay away from his home. It's a hurt that I'll live with for the rest of my life."

She said that Deon grew a vegetable garden that he distributed to widows and others on fixed incomes in his neighborhood.

Then the defendant was allowed to speak, at the request of his defense attorney, appointed counsel Jeffrey Cutler of Wendell.

"Yes sir, your honor, I just want to say to you, yes, Deon was a good person. He and I never had any animosity toward each other, and he was nice enough to let me use his telephone, and every now and then if I needed a ride to go somewhere, he'd give it."

The defendant continued, talking about surviving victim Donald Wayne Graham Jr.

"Donald Wayne, we were close, too, but Deon and I were even closer, because Deon kept more of a level head than Donald Wayne did. I do understand that he has gone, but as (I have said in the past), the truth would be brought to the light.

"And a lot happened that night. It takes two to tango. And, um, I'm not saying that I intended for any of this to happen. Why it happened, I don't know either. Only God has an answer," the defendant said.

Then Davis spoke directly to the Graham family, causing an emotional eruption and prompting the judge to end the defendant's speech.

"You're not the only person who has lost a son, because now, I have to spend 30 years of my life away from my mom," Davis said.

The judge interjected.

"I'm not going to have this. No, sir. I'm not going to have this. You're the one who put yourself in this position," the judge said.

As the judge finished his sentence, the victim's wife sprang out of her seat and hurriedly moved out of the courtroom, crying and loudly saying "No, no, no, no."

The assistant district attorney stood and asked if the court could take a 10-minute recess, which the judge granted.

After the trial, his defense attorney tried to account for the comments.

"I don't know that he meant it quite the way it came out," Cutler said. "Deep down, he didn't feel like he deserved 30 years. He felt like he was defending himself, that it was self- defense."