03/18/11 — Murder suspect in court

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Murder suspect in court

By Gary Popp
Published in News on March 18, 2011 1:46 PM

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Derrick Raymont Best stands before Judge Arnold Jones during his first appearance in Wayne County Superior Court Thursday. Best is accused of murder in the shooting of 3-year-old Princess King. More than a dozen deputies were in the courtroom to prevent any disruptions during the emotion-packed hearing.

Derrick Raymont Best could face the death penalty if he is convicted of first-degree murder in connection with the shooting death of 3-year-old Princess Shelby King of Goldsboro.

Best, 29, of Mimosa Street, made his first appearance in Wayne County Superior Court Thursday afternoon after being arrested by U.S. Marshals Wednesday night in Greenville.

Lawmen had been looking for him since the shooting occurred Feb. 27 on Day Circle. The child was caught in the path of a gunshot allegedly fired by Best during an altercation in the neighborhood.

After Best was featured on the television show "America's Most Wanted," a tip led to his capture at a housing complex following a standoff of several hours.

Best also faces a number of other charges stemming from previous run-ins with the law, including kidnapping, assault by strangulation and assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury.

Superior Court Judge Arnold Jones presided over Best's first appearance Thursday afternoon.

If prosecutors decide not to pursue the death penalty, Jones said, Best would likely face a life sentence if found guilty.

During the proceeding, Best requested that he receive a court-appointed lawyer for his defense.

Nearly 30 friends and family members turned out to support Best, who has said openly that he did not mean to hit the child but was shooting at another man.

A smaller group representing Princess sat on the other side of the courtroom. Several of the toddler's family members and friends quietly wept and others literally shook out of sadness and frustration when Best entered the courtroom.

Superior Court typically has three deputies serving as bailiffs during proceedings. During Best's appearance, 14 deputies were on hand to prevent any disruptions.

Best also faces a number of misdemeanor charges, including two counts of assault on a female, three communicating threats, larceny, breaking and entering, injury to real property and two counts of harassing phone calls.