12/02/13 — Suspects to appear in court this week

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Suspects to appear in court this week

By John Joyce
Published in News on December 2, 2013 1:46 PM

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Leonard Eugene Joyner

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Jerome Jilah Butts

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Curtis Omar Ethridge

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Kevin Smith

The four men accused of kidnapping and killing 16-year-old Kennedy Fitzgerald McClaurin Jr. in September 2012 will be arraigned in Wayne County Superior Court on Wednesday.

Leonard Eugene Joyner, 23, Jerome Jilah Butts, 21, Kevin Smith, 19, and Curtis Omar Ethridge, 20, are each charged with first-degree kidnapping and first-degree murder.

McLaurin went missing Sept. 9, 2012, after he was last seen being forced into the back of a car on Bain Street.

After nearly two weeks, McLaurin's body was found in a shallow grave in a grove off Carmack Road near Seven Springs.

He had been shot and beaten, his body burned and buried. Investigators later disclosed that the body had been previously buried in another spot and then relocated to the location where police discovered it.

Joyner was the first to be arrested, having turned himself in after police broadcast his image on television.

Butts and Smith's arrests followed later that evening. Ethridge was arrested the next day.

The four were indicted by a Wayne County grand jury in October.

Each of the men have since been held in Wayne County Jail without bond awaiting trial. Prosecutors have not said when they expect the trial to take place.