03/24/14 — Prosecution to continue in Joyner murder trial

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Prosecution to continue in Joyner murder trial

By John Joyce
Published in News on March 24, 2014 1:46 PM

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Defendant Leonard Eugene Joyner, left, confers with his lawyer, Charles Gurley, last week in Wayne County Superior Court. Joyner is on trial for first-degree murder in connection with the death of Kennedy McLaurin.

The lead investigator in the 2012 death of Kennedy McLaurin is expected to retake the stand this morning in Wayne County Superior Court as the trial continues for one of the men accused in the 16-year-old's alleged murder.

Goldsboro police Detective Dwayne Bevell testified concerning a videotaped-interview between himself and defendant Leonard Eugene Joyner, 23, several days after the murder. In the 20-minute portion of the video seen by the jury, Joyner denies any involvement in the case.

The first three full days of testimony included a procession of eyewitnesses and experts, the victim's mother and hundreds of pieces of evidence.

State Bureau of Investigation crime scene investigator Agent Justin Godwin testified, along with three state crime lab witnesses and three other Goldsboro police officers, about the evidence collected at three scenes in the course of the investigation -- the car in which the victim was allegedly abducted, and the first and final burial sites.

Much of the evidence had been burned, according to testimony.

Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Arnold Jones excused the 15 impaneled jurors, 12 active and three alternates, for the weekend Friday with instructions not to discuss or to read coverage of the case.

As the state continues to present its case, Assistant District Attorney Matthew Delbridge is expected to call the three men who have already confessed and pleaded guilty to their roles in McLaurin's death -- Jerome Butts, 20, Curtis Ethridge, 19, and Kevin Smith, 20.

Defense attorney Charles Gurley, sticking steadfastly to his client's plea of self-defense, has and is expected to continue to attack the state's evidence and witnesses.

Gurley claims his client acted only as a result of McLaurin's attempt to rob him, which Joyner's attorney alleges was part of a gang initiation.