03/19/09 — Trial begins in pair of murders

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Trial begins in pair of murders

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on March 19, 2009 1:46 PM

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Roderick Miles Davis Jr.

Testimony in the trial of a man accused of two 2006 murders was expected to continue today in Wayne County Superior Court.

Roderick Miles Davis Jr., was 23 when he was accused of killing James Lee Croom, 24, of Bizzell Court, and Trasond Javoy Gerald, 20, of Prince Avenue.

On Wednesday, Davis faced a jury, which began to weigh the testimony of prosecution witnesses.

Davis has pleaded not guilty to the killings.

Wayne County Assistant District Attorney Matt Delbridge spent much of Wednesday afternoon with N.C. State Bureau of Investigation field agent Pat Matthews on the stand.

Delbridge showed a series of photographs that showed the paths of bullets allegedly fired from an assault rifle.

The assistant district attorney repeatedly asked Ms. Matthews questions related to the handling of evidence.

"When you collect evidence at a crime scene, do you take caution not to alter things that you collect from that scene?" Delbridge asked.

Just moments later, he asked about other evidence.

"There were some additional (artillery) cartridge cases and some metal fragments both from the street and the apartments -- did you do anything to alter or change the individual condition of those particular items?"

Davis Jr.'s attorney, Geof-frey Hulse of Goldsboro, cross examined Ms. Mat-thews.

"You don't know whether the windows were up or down, or in between ... looking at the photographs, and in your recollection, the windows, were all of them intact?"

"The door window on the driver's side, and the passenger's side back window, there is safety glass, they break into 1,000 pieces (so) they don't cut you," Ms. Matthews said. "So that was basically intact, and that's why you see a bullethole. The window in the passenger side in the rear, was just lots of little pieces."

Hulse asked how many windows were intact, asking if all four door windows had been shot.

"Three of the door windows were not intact," Ms. Matthews said.

Moments later, Hulse asked where the crime scene investigator believed the bullets had entered the vehicle.

"The driver's side of the vehicle, was it your belief that the driver's side of the vehicle was closest to where the shots were fired?" Hulse asked.

Ms. Matthew responded, "Yes, sir, the bulletholes all entered that way, and not the other side. So it would have to be the intermediate point."

Croom and Gerald were inside the vehicle, a 2006 Dodge Stratus, during the shooting.

Police later learned that Otavis Gerquel McKinnon, then 18, of Courtyard Circle was also inside the vehicle. He originally told officers that he was walking in the 900 block of Olivia Lane and was hit by a stray bullet, according to police.

McKinnon was treated and released from Wayne Memorial Hospital.

Croom, who was driving, was pronounced dead on the scene. Emergency workers rushed Gerald to the hospital, but he was pronounced dead on arrival, police said.

Davis Jr. faces two counts of first-degree murder, two counts attempted first-degree murder, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, 10 counts of discharging a firearm into an occupied vehicle and three counts of discharging a firearm into an occupied building.