01/09/09 — Shooting suspect will face death penalty

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Shooting suspect will face death penalty

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on January 9, 2009 1:46 PM

Prosecutors will seek the death penalty for Devon Dejatorian Jones, who is accused of killing Joseph Payan, 33.

The Wayne County District Attorney's office asked for and received death penalty status Thursday for the case, which is being heard in Wayne Superior Court.

The Rule 24 hearing, a standard part of every first-degree murder case, lasted just minutes during a scheduled update of the county's murder trials.

Judge Arnold Jones presided over the hearing.

Greenville-based attorney Jim Antinore, the appointed counsel in the case, could not immediately be reached for comment today.

The Office of Indigent Defense Services will also appoint a second attorney in the case, as is prescribed by law, District Attorney Branny Vickory said.

Vickory said Assistant District Attorney Mike Ricks is handling the case, and presented the arguments in the Rule 24 hearing.

Prosecutors in North Carolina have ethics rules governing what they can and cannot say in a public forum before the outcome of a trial.

The defendant has an extensive criminal history, and prosecutors seek to identify him as an habitual felon, according to court records.

Vickory said he could not discuss if Jones' prior record accounts for the district attorney's office's decision to seek the death penalty.

"It is our position that he is statutorily eligible for it, and we are exercising our discretion to seek it in this case," Vickory said.

Jones, 29, is accused of killing Payan Nov. 17. Payan's body was discovered by a resident of Granville Drive who heard gunshots that night and searched a nearby wooded area the next morning.