09/25/11 — Murder trial set to start Monday

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Murder trial set to start Monday

By Gary Popp
Published in News on September 25, 2011 1:50 AM

Jamie Lee Hinson

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Steven Lynn Barbour

On a morning in early December 2009, the badly battered body of Jamie Lee Hinson, 35, was found in Evergreen Memorial Cemetery on U.S. 70 West.

The trial of one of the three people accused of killing him, Steven Lynn Barbour, is scheduled to begin Monday in Wayne County Superior Court.

Barbour was arrested in January 2010 and charged with first-degree murder.

He could face the death penalty if convicted.

A second suspect, Joseph Lanier, 23, also was charged with first-degree murder, but will be tried separately.

Tara Sparks, 30, the third suspect in the case, has signed a plea deal with the state, which could reduce her charges. She remains in the Wayne County Jail.

The Wayne County Sheriff's Office believes Hinson had patronized Doll's Palace, a nightclub in Selma, until about 2 a.m. on Dec. 3.

At 9 a.m., Hinson's body was discovered by cemetery employees, but authorities could not officially confirm the identify of the body until DNA results were returned from an SBI lab more than two weeks later.

The autopsy report from the state Medical Examiner in Chapel Hill listed the cause of Hinson's death as "blunt force and incised trauma." According to the report, there was massive fracturing to the skull and ribs and blunt force trauma to the chest and arms.

Barbour became a suspect early in the investigation, according to an affidavit of probable cause issued by the Sheriff's Office.

Barbour initially told investigators that he had last spoken with Hinson several days before his death. But telephone records showed that he had spoken to Hinson by phone at 8:28 p.m. the night before his body was discovered.

A relative of Hinson's told investigators that she had seen Hinson leaving his father's home with an unidentified person or persons at about 8:40 p.m. that night. The relative also told to investigators that Hinson had talked on the phone to whomever picked him up.

Barbour and Ms. Sparks were interviewed by detectives, and according to Sheriff's Office documents, Lanier told lawmen that he and Barbour had picked up Hinson from his father's house in Barbour's pickup truck and that he was present when Barbour killed Hinson.

Ms. Sparks, identified as Barbour's girlfriend in the report, told detectives that Barbour told her that he had killed Hinson.

Lanier also told investigators that Ms. Sparks was with him and Barbour when Hinson was killed, according to Sheriff's Office documents.

Both Sparks and Lanier were charged and arrested by the Sheriff's Office on Jan. 8, 2010.

On Nov. 23, 2010, Ms. Sparks signed an agreement with the state in exchange for truthful testimony during Barbour's trial.

According to the agreement, "the state will allow her to plead to accessory after the fact to murder in the second-degree."

Presiding over the trial will be Guilford County Resident Superior Court Judge Stuart Albright.