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03/26/14 — Live from the courtroom -- Joyner on trial

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Live from the courtroom -- Joyner on trial

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on March 26, 2014 9:31 AM

Follow all the action unfolding in Courtroom No. 1, as the state attempts to convince a Wayne County jury that Leonard Eugene Joyner is guilty of first-degree murder and first-degree kidnapping in connection with the 2012 death of 16-year-old Kennedy McLaurin Jr.

Joyner on trial, Day 6:

9:29 a.m. -- Senior Resident Superior Court Arnold Jones has entered the courtroom.

9:33 a.m. -- Assistant District Attorney Matthew Delbridge has entered the courtroom and Jones is holding a bench conference with the attorneys.

9:41 a.m. -- Court has been at ease for the last several minutes as defense attorney Charles Gurley sets up a TV in front of the jury box. The jury is not yet in the courtroom.

9:49 a.m. -- Jones has called for the jury.

9:50 a.m. -- The jury is seated in its box.

9:50 a.m. -- Defense begins.

9:51 a.m. -- The defense calls its first witness, Goldsboro Police Department Det. Dwayne Bevell

Defense attorney Charles Gurley asked Bevell to identify a disk dated "9/21/2012." The name "Kevin Smith" also appears on the disk.

Bevell said that he produced a DVD of his interview with Smith.

Gurley asked Bevell to identify a disk dated "9/20/2012." The name "Jerome Butts" also appears on the disk.

Bevell said that he produced a DVD of his interview with Butts.

9:53 a.m. -- The jury is about to watch a DVD recording of Butts' Sept. 20, 2012, interview with Det. Bevell (note: due to the location of the TV, it might be difficult for the News-Argus to provide 'Live from the courtroom' play-by-play of this portion of the defense. We will do the best we can and what we can hear will be published below)

9:55 a.m. -- The video begins.

9:56 a.m. -- Gurley is having technical difficulties with the TV.

9:57 a.m. -- The video begins again.

On the video:

Bevell tells Butts, "You're free to leave."

The two men have left the interview room and the jury is staring at footage of two empty chairs and a desk.

Butts, wearing a red shirt and jeans, takes a seat.

10:01 a.m. -- Gurley fast-forwards the video.

Bevell is seen walking into the interview room and he takes a seat.

"I ain't gonna lean on you. I ain't gonna question you hard core," Bevell said. "Just tell me what happened in the car."

Butts is speaking in a way that is difficult to understand -- even Judge Jones is gesturing as if he can't hear what the young man is saying.

"He pulled out a gun," he said. "It was survival mode then."

Butts said he was "basically shooting himself."

He said Curtis Ethridge was in the back seat of the car and Leonard Joyner was driving after the shooting.

Another officer brings food into the interview room.

Bevell offers Butts some food and starts to eat.

"How did y'all hook up with those boys that morning?" Bevell asks.

"I was just driving," Butts said, adding that he was the one who drove Joyner and Ethridge to Goldsboro.

Bevell asked where Joyner drove the car to after the shooting.

"I don't even know where we went. Somewhere," Butts said. "A field. They had a shovel. I don't know where they got a shovel."

"How much smoke was involved?" Bevell asked.

"I don't know. I guess about an eighth," Butts said.

Butts said they didn't "strip him naked," when asked if they buried McLaurin in his clothes.

"What's the best way to figure out where you buried this boy at?" Bevell asked. "You were driving with a dead body. (Expletive)"

Bevell tells Butts he is going to go get him some water and leaves the interview room.

While he is gone, Butts eats some of the food the investigator brought in.

"Who's idea was it to do all this burying (expletive)?" Bevell asks when he gets back.

It is hard to understand Butts' answer, but judging by Bevell's response to it -- "He was the oldest out of all y'all, right?" -- Joyner seems to be the person he named.

Bevell asked if they took anything out of McLaurin's pockets -- "weed," etc.

Butts said no.

"I don't think he had no weed," he said.

"You feelin' better now that you told somebody?" Bevell said.

Butts tells Bevell to write his statement for him.

Bevell says after he signs it, they are going to get in the car and find the body.

"The first step has finally been taken. Praise the Lord," Bevell said. "Eleven days later, the first step has been taken. Do you feel it?"

10:25 a.m. -- The jury is about to watch a DVD recording of Smith's Sept. 21, 2012, interview with Det. Bevell (note: due to the location of the TV, it might be difficult for the News-Argus to provide 'Live from the courtroom' play-by-play of this portion of the defense. We will do the best we can and what we can hear will be published below)

10:27 a.m. -- The video begins.

On the video:

Smith is sitting in a chair in the interview room. He is wearing a dark shirt and dark pants.

Someone from off the screen offers Smith a cup of water.

For the past five minutes of video, Smith has been sitting alone in the interview room.

Voices can be heard off screen.

Seven minutes in -- still just Smith sitting in a chair.

On the screen, the fact that the interview room door is open is evident. Bevell previously testified that he did not read the suspects their rights before their first interviews because they were not "officially in custody" and were "free to leave at any time."

Eleven minutes in -- Smith is still sitting in that room alone.

The jury is literally watching footage of Smith sitting in a chair.

10:38 a.m. -- Gurley asks that the video be fast-forwarded, 12 minutes after the jury started watching the footage of Smith.

10:39 a.m. -- Bevell, now that the video has been fast-forwarded walks into the interview room.

"What's up, buddy?" he asks. "You all right?"

"Yes, sir," Smith said.

"He did it. I got him on first-degree murder," Bevell said. "He told me (expletive) that ain't true. I blew it up. I blew that (expletive) up."

He characterized Joyner as an "evil expletive."

"This is a death penalty crime," Bevell said. "He's out there running because he's a (expletive)."

"If you lie to me, you're evil," Bevell said. "Evil."

"Leonard lied," he said.

Bevell is telling him that he's "got it all."

"You've got a life-changing decision to make," he said. "I need to get his body back to his mama so they can give him a proper burial."

"You were drug into this. You were guilty by association," Bevell said. "Don't go down. This (expletive) is real. (Expletive) him."

"You show me where the body is, that is showing remorse," he said. "You got to tell me where he is ... otherwise you're just as guilty. ... You feel me?"

"I'm done (expletive) around. It's been 12 (expletive) days," Bevell said. "I'm done (expletive) around."

"Where the hell is he?" he asked.

"I do not know," Smith replied.

"Expletive," Bevell said. "You're a liar."

"I don't know," Smith said. "I really don't."

"I don't need a body to press murder charges," Bevell said. "You understand me? I don't need it. Tell me where the (expletive) he is so I can take him home to his mama."

Smith is yelling.

"I don't know. I don't know. I don't know where he's at," he said.

"You've got to decide how you're gonna play this," Bevell said. "You had better tell the damn truth. ... The man who's putting everybody in prison is right in front of you."

"You tell me the truth, I'll tell the district attorney about it," he said.

Bevell said "if you hit him in the head with that shovel," before he was buried, "I thank you for that. His mama would thank you for that," because nobody should be "buried alive."

"Mafia does (expletive) like that. Evil bastards to (expletive) like that," Bevell said.

Smith still won't respond.

"Kevin, what did (Joyner) say to you on the phone?" Bevell asked.

Smith doesn't respond.

"Kevin, I'm keepin' it real," Bevell said. "I'm keeping it real. Tell me about being drug into this. Tell me the truth."

The two men are sitting in silence.

"I'm not going away," Bevell said. "I'm telling you what you need to do in order to save your (expletive)."

"If you tell me what I know is the truth, I can put you in the truth pile," he said. "I don't have to do any of this for you. I don't have to hear your side of it. ... That's the way I do business because I know how people are."

"I'm not trying to ruin your life," Bevell said.

"So what are you gonna do?" he asked. "I want a remorseful Kevin, not an evil Kevin. What are you gonna do? Either take advantage of it or tell me to (expletive) off. Just tell me ... so I can go home and say, 'I gave that young man a chance.'The easy thing to do is to tell me to (expletive) off. The hard thing to do is tell me the truth."

"Are you done? If you're finished with this (expletive) tell me," Bevell said. "There's two routes. Leonard took the bad one."

Bevell walked out of the interview room.

11:17 a.m. -- The video has been stopped.

11:18 a.m. -- After a short bench conference, the video resumes.

Smith is, again, alone in his chair. At one point, he blows his nose and gets up and walks around with his hands in his pockets.

Bevell returns to the room and then, after a brief exchange with Smith, leaves again.

The detective returns to the room.

Smith is talking to him, but it is very hard to understand. Several members of the jury are leaning in.

"He shot himself twice," Smith said.

11:23 a.m. -- The video is stopped and Gurley returns to his seat.

11:24 a.m. -- Morning break. Court will resume at 11:40 a.m.

11:42 a.m. -- Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Arnold Jones is back in the courtroom and has called for the jury. When testimony resumes, Bevell will be back on the stand.

11:44 a.m. -- The jury is back in the courtoom and Gurley said he has no further questions for Bevell.

11:44 a.m. -- Bevell steps down.

11:45 a.m. -- The defense calls its second witness, Lacy Hewitt

He told the court that he lives off of Highway 111 South and is using an over-sized map of Wayne County to point to where he lives.

"What is that near?" Gurley asked.

"It's near an Exxon gas station," he said.

Hewitt told the court that he does not work because he has cancer and lives "five minutes walking" from Joyner's house.

He said he saw Joyner, "usually daily."

Hewitt said Joyner had "an older bike" and that "usually," Joyner rides his bicycle.

"Did you see him on or about Sept. 9, 2012?" Gurley said.

Hewitt said "I see him so often, I wouldn't have known."

"It wouldn't have been odd to have seen him, so I don't remember the exact days," he said. "I see him a lot."

He said he knows Kevin Smith and Josh Carter, "through Leonard."

Hewitt said he lives with his parents.

11:51 a.m. -- During cross-examination, Assistant District Attorney Matthew Delbridge asked Hewitt if he's "doing OK with his health."

He said yes.

Delbridge asked how long he had been friends with Joyner.

He said roughly seven years -- that he knew Curtis Ethridge because he knew his brother from school.

Hewitt said the suspects hung around "quite a bit."

He said that Smith and Joyner were "friends," but not "best friends."

Of those three people, Joyner was the oldest, he said.

Hewitt said when the men were together, "they pretty much all had their own input on what they wanted to do."

He said that he "never really thought about" which of the men were smarter.

Smith and Ethridge, he said, had more "street smarts" than "school smart."

Hewitt said Joyner liked hanging out with Carter because he had cable TV.

He said he had been to Carter's house, but did not hang out there a lot.

11:56 a.m. -- During redirect, Hewitt said he and Joyner would "smoke weed" and play video games at his house.

"We just hung out and did stuff guys do," he said. "He's been a real nice guy. ... He even called my mom on Mothers Day."

11:57 a.m. -- During redirect, Hewitt said he did not know anything had happened with McLaurin and the men until he "saw that the police were lookin' for them on the TV."

11:58 a.m. -- The defense calls its third witness, Leonard Eugene Joyner

11:59 a.m. -- The jury has been removed from the courtroom and Jones is reminding Joyner that he has the right to not testify. He said he understands the charges and still wants to take the stand.

"Is it your decision to testify in this case at this time?" Jones asked.

"Yes, sir," Joyner replied.

12:05 p.m. -- Jones has called for the jury.

12:06 p.m. -- The jury is back in the courtroom and testimony resumes.

Joyner told the court he is 23 years old -- that he lives off Highway 111.

Using an over-sized map of Wayne County, the young man is pointing out where he lives.

Joyner said he went to, and graduated from, Spring Creek High School. He graduated in 2009.

He said he worked at McDonald's off Highway 70 near Rosewood for roughly two years.

In 2012, he was not working because he was "trying to get into Wayne Community."

Joyner said he lived with his mother.

She, he said, works at Wayne Memorial Hospital.

"She's been there goin' on ... nine years," he said.

Joyner said his father lives in Wilmington.

"He's been in Wilmington all my life," he said.

He said he visited his father "every summer" -- that he has an older brother, an older sister, two younger brothers and a younger sister.

Joyner said he has known Lacy Hewitt "since high school" and that they remain friends.

He said he had known Jermone Butts for five or six months before "this incident happened."

He met Kevin Smith "in the neighborhood" and knew Curtis Ethridge through his older brother, whom he said he went to school with.

Gurley is asking about the morning of Sept. 9, 2012.

He shifted gears, and asked him about his bicycle.

Joyner described his bicycle and is now talking about Sept. 9, 2012.

"I remember waking up. I got on my bike and rode out to the neighborhood," he said, adding that Ethridge, Smith and Butts were already out there.

Butts was skateboarding and the other guys were "sitting around -- smokin,' chillin'"

"Smokin' what?" Gurley asked.

"Marijuana," Joyner replied.

Butts, he said, went to get his car because they decided they wanted "very potent weed" -- a type of marijuana called, "Loud."

Joyner said they all already had marijuana, but wanted better stuff, so while Butts went to get his car, they went to Smith's house.

"Kevin and Curtis were walking and I had my bicycle," he said.

Joyner said it was "probably around 12."

"We was just sittin' there waiting -- still smokin,'" he said.

Butts, he said, showed up with his car -- and identified, using a photograph Gurley handed to him, the vehicle.

Joyner said when Butts arrived, they got in the car.

He called Antonio "Mel" King, who told them to "come to Bain Street."

Joyner said he had purchased marijuana from King many times before.

"I met him through my, I would call him, my brother-in-law," he said.

"We didn't never conversate," Joyner said. "Thirty seconds, I would be gone."

He told the jury that Butts was driving, he was in the passenger seat and Ethridge was in the back.

Smith, Joyner said, did not come along.

"As soon as we got to Bain Street, I called Mel. He said, 'I'm sending Little Homey,'" he said. "We waited for like three or four more minutes."

Joyner said he did not know who "Little Homey" was and had no knowledge of Kennedy McLaurin Jr. before that day.

"The victim approached the car and looked in. I said, 'Are you Mel's homeboy?' He said, 'Yes.'" Joyner said.

McLaurin then got in the car and asked them what they wanted.

"He was like, 'This is what I got for y'all,' and pulled out a weapon.'" Joyner said.

The young man told the court he then hit Ethridge with the gun and pointed it at the others -- demanding money.

The struggle, he said, began.

Once the gun was pointed at him, "I grabbed the gun."

"Now, me and him are wrestling over the gun," Joyner said.

"He's yelling, 'You're not gonna get this gun from me,'" he said.

He asked the other two men for help and Butts got back in the car and held McLaurin down.

Moments later, the first shot went off, Joyner said.

He also said that Ethridge initially wrestled with McLaurin for the gun.

"Were you in fear at this point?" Gurley asked.

"Yes, sir," Joyner replied.

After the first shot when out, McLaurin, Joyner said, shouted, "I shot mysef."

"After the first shot, he said, 'I shot myself.' That's when he started yelling, 'Roll call. Roll call,'" Joyner said.

With "one hand on the gun," he told Ethridge to get back in the car and drove away because he saw "two or three guys coming through the cut."

The men came running "not even 15 seconds" after McLaurin said, 'Roll call," Joyner said.

12:36 p.m. -- Lunch break. Court will resume at 2 p.m.

2:01 p.m. -- Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Arnold Jones is back in the courtroom. When testimony resumes, defendant Leonard Joyner will be back on the stand.

2:02 p.m. -- Jones is addressing a "disturbance" that took place in the parking lot during lunch.

"Some of the jurors saw that," he said.

He said there is now increased security.

"I can't make people follow the rules, but I can enforce them," Jones said. "I'm not gonna put up with that."

2:04 p.m. -- Jones has called for jury and informed the lawyers that he will be talking to them about what he just said to the court.

2:05 p.m. -- The jury is back in the courtroom.

Jones told the jury he is taking steps to ensure they are safe and that he wants them focused on the trial, not what is happening outside the courtroom.

2:07 p.m. -- Joyner is back on the stand and testimony resumes.

"Jerome was sitting on Kennedy and I still had one hand on the gun," he said.

"My first destination was to go to the police station," Joyner said, but as soon as they got in front of Goldsboro High School, another shot went off and he was "able to get the gun from Kennedy."

Joyner said McLaurin was making threats in between the first and second shots.

Joyner said he threw the gun in the back seat of the car.

"Farther down the street, I looked at him," he said. "After the second shot, he wasn't saying anything. I believe he was dead."

"I panicked," he said, adding that he then called Kevin Smith and made his way toward his house.

He said he did not go to the police, because he was scared.

"We had drugs on us," he said. "Plus a dead guy. I was scared. I wasn't really thinking."

Joyner said he did not go to police because if they saw "three young black guys, plus a dead body," he would get arrested.

He said when he made that decision, he was in the driver's seat -- at an the intersection of Ash Street and Wayne Memorial Drive."

"We pulled up at Kevin's house and I got out of the car," Joyner said.

Butts, he said, got into the driver's seat.

He got on his bike and left, he said.

"Why did you ride off?" Gurley asked.

"Because I didn't want to have anything to do with it," Joyner said.

"Anything to do with what?" Gurley asked.

"Whatever they were about to do," he said.

Joyner said he has been in trouble before, but it was only a misdemeanor.

He said he has shot guns before, but "I never never shot at anybody."

When he got to Hewitt's house, he "acted like it was just a regular day."

He and Hewitt "smoked weed" and "played on the computer."

Joyner said he hung out at Hewitt's house for "a couple hours," before getting on his bicycle and going home.

Nobody was home when he got there, he said.

He said he had been at his home for a few minutes when he got a phone call from Antonio "Mel" King asking about McLaurin.

Joyner said King threatened his life and his family members' lives.

He said he didn't call the police because "I wasn't thinkin.'"

"Later on that day, when I went to Josh Carter's house, that's when I told him to say I was at the tattoo shop," Joyner said.

He said that from Carter's house, he called his mother and told her to stay away from the house because somebody was threatening the family.

"We was all sittin' around -- Curtis and Kevin was there," he said, adding that he told Carter to tell King he was at the tattoo shop.

Joyner said he stayed at Carter's house that night.

"That night, Jerome ended up coming over. The guy's were talking," he said. "Josh overheard them and started asking questions."

He said that is when it became clear that Ethridge, Butts and Smith had disposed of McLaurin's body off Carmack Road.

"Josh is basically telling us that he's done this before -- that this is how you get rid of a body," Joyner said.

Joyner said it was "not true" that he was the one who told them to get rid of the body.

"I didn't go out there. I don't know what happened," he said. "I don't know what they did."

Joyner is looking at a photograph of the burial site and said "I don't recognize that."

Gurley is reminding him that he saw it during previous testimony.

He said he has never been there.

Gurley is showing him a picture of the first burial site and said he had never been there.

Joyner said Sept. 10, 2012, he rode with Carter to buy a blue tarp and "other instruments."

"We went back to his house ... and just sat there," he said.

"We waited till nighttime and that's when Jerome, Kevin and Josh Carter ... went back to the grave site," Joyner said.

He said a week later, he met Goldsboro Police Department Det. Dwayne Bevell.

Joyner said he lied to the detective about what he had been doing Sept. 9, 2102.

"Basically, I tried to carry on the lie I had told the guys who were threatening me," he said. 

He said he was handcuffed and he was driven to the GPD -- that he was never read his rights.

Joyner said, "Cops lie just to get what they want," so he did not feel safe coming clean about the shooting being self-defense.

"He questioned me for about an hour ... maybe two hours, and after that, he took me back," he said.

He was arrested nine days later, he said.

2:35 p.m. -- Cross-examination has begun.

Assistant District Attorney is asking Joyner to tell the jury the types of things he and the other suspects used to do together.

Joyner said they smoked marijuana and hung out.

He said he and his mother were close, but that he respected, "basically all my elders."

"I seen them all as parents," he said.

Joyner said he saw Smith and Ethridge "just about every day."

He said that he sold marijuana to make money -- that Smith and Ethridge sold, also.

Joyner said he had "five or six" marijuana connections.

"The drug business is sort of a dangerous business to be in, isn't it?" Delbridge asked.

"Yes sir," Joyner replied.

He said there was no "muscle" in the group.

Joyner said he did not own a gun.

He said that when the car arrived at Smith's house, he did not see Smith pull a gun and tell him to get a shovel.

Delbridge asked Joyner if he was "very convincing" to King about not knowing where McLaurin was.

"So you were giving the appearance of being very sincere right?" he asked.

"I was trying to save myself," Joyner replied.

Joyner said the gun was pointed at him at one point.

He said he never had his hands on McLaurin -- just the gun.

Joyner said "not all" of the gun was under the young man.

"How long have you been practicing this?" Delbridge asked.

"I, I haven't practiced this," Joyner replied. "I'm telling the truth."

Delbridge is sitting in front of Joyner, asking him to re-enact what happened between he and McLaurin in the car.

After he acted it out, he said the first shot when off on Bain Street.

Butts, at that point, was already on top of McLaurin.

"I don't know if he was pushing down," Joyner said.

He said he was holding the back of the gun, not the trigger.

Joyner said after the first gunshot, Kennedy said, "Ah, I shot myself."

"So he's narrating?" Delbridge asked.

"I don't know what was on his mind," Joyner said.

He said he did not know where the shell casing went.

"I did not see no shell casing," Joyner said.

Delbridge is asking him if it was his intention to go to the Police Department after the first shot went off.

He said yes -- that he knew where it was.

"I was gonna come here because the guy was tryin' to rob us," Joyner said.

But he didn't because a second shot went off and McLaurin, he said, was dead.

Delbridge is asking why he didn't throw the marijuana out the window if that's why he didn't go to the police.

"It was a gun in the car and a dead guy," Joyner said, adding that he believed the police would not believe him.

Delbridge is asking why, after Bevell told him about self-defense, why he lied, he said it was because he didn't trust the police.

"I didn't go out there with the intention of killing somebody," Joyner said.

"That's what investigator Bevell was saying ... right?" Delbridge asked.

"Basically," Joyner replied. "But I was scared. ... I was trying to save myself."

He said in the interview with Bevell, he was at ease.

He passed the time by rapping, Joyner said.

"You didn't look too ... upset," Delbridge said.

"Just passing time," he replied.

Delbridge just rapped the lyrics.

Joyner said the first person he called after the boy died was Smith.

Delbridge asked why not his mother or other "adults" he said were like his parents.

He had no answer.

"The first thing I wanted to do was me get away from it," Joyner said.

Delbridge asked why he didn't stop the car and get out right away.

"I really wasn't thinking," Joyner said, adding that he wanted to go where he was comfortable.

"You weren't worried about driving down Ash Street with a body in the car on a Sunday afternoon?" Delbridge asked.

"No sir," Joyner said.

Joyner said there were many opportunities to stop, but he didn't.

He said when he got to Smith's he "got on my bike and left."

He said he went to Hewitt's house rather than Carter's because he wanted to get "out of the neighborhood."

Joyner said he never asked what the others did with McLaurin's body.

"They didn't bury him for me," he said. "I knew that he was buried but I didn't know where."

Delbridge is introducing a piece of evidence. It is a piece of paper Joyner said "kind of looks familiar."

"That's what you wrote down, isn't it?" Delbridge said.

"I mean, I write a little neater than that," Joyner said.

3:21 p.m. -- Joyner steps down.

3:22 p.m.-- The defense rests.

3:23 p.m. -- Afternoon break. Court will resume at 3:35 p.m.

3:35 p.m. -- Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Arnold Jones is back in the courtroom.

3:36 p.m. -- The jury is back in the courtroom and the state calls its twenty-first witness, Goldsboro Police Department Det. Dwayne Bevell

Assistant District Attorney Matthew Delbridge is asking Bevell questions about how a semi-automatic weapon works.

Bevell said when a shot is fired, the shell ejects to the right and, if the slide is blocked, it will not reload. In that case, the gun would likely jam.

Delbridge is asking about the interviews he conducted with Jerome Butts and Kevin Smith -- the videos that were shown to the jury as part of the defense.

He said that learning that McLaurin's body had been recovered left him "overwhelmed."

Bevell said that Butts' account of what happened was the "very first" eyewitness account of what had happened.

He said that when Gurley stopped the tape earlier, there was more interview left.

3:44 p.m. -- Delbridge is showing the jury the remainder of the video. We will do our best to tell you what is on the recording.

Butts asked if McLaurin moved after the shots were fired.

He said he talked "all the way" to the burial site.

"At what point was he dead? When did he die -- take his last breath?" Bevell said. "I know you know."

Butts said he shot himself, "once."

"What was the last thing that boy saw before he died?" Bevell said. "Did y'all bury that boy while he was still alive? What killed that boy? One gunshot didn't kill him."

Butts said they drug him out of the car "and did somethin' to him."

"Who finished him and put him in that hole? Who took his last breath -- his last heartbeat?" Bevell said.

"I don't know," Butts said.

"Who killed that boy? You're saying Kevin and Leonard buried him," Bevell said.

Butts said "I know he got quiet," after they arrived at the first burial site.

3:51 p.m. -- Delbridge stopped the video and is asking Bevell to identify a signed, hand-written statement from Butts.

3:52 p.m. -- The jury is reviewing the statement.

4:00 p.m. -- Afternoon break, part 2. Court will resume at 4:25 p.m.

4:41 p.m. -- Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Arnold Jones is back in the courtroom.

4:42 p.m. -- The defendant has stepped out to use the restroom, so the jury has not yet been called back.

4:43 p.m. -- Joyner is back in the courtroom and Jones has called for the jury. When testimony resumes, Goldsboro Police Department Det. Dwayne Bevell will be back on the stand.

4:45 p.m. -- Bevell retakes the stand and Gurley is about to cross-examine the witness.

Gurley took Bevell a copy of the statement the jury just reviewed. The detective said the statement is in his handwriting, not Jerome Butts.

"You actually took two more statements after that, didn't you?" Gurley asked.

Bevell is referring to his notes.

"On the 21st, he was interviewed two more times," he said.

He testified that he never found the weapon.

4:48 p.m. -- Bevell steps down.

4:49 p.m. -- The state rests ... again.

4:49 p.m. -- Jones requested a bench conference with the attorneys and they are currently discussing something.

4:50 p.m. -- Jones excuses the jury for the day and tells them to be back Thursday at 9:30 a.m.

4:51 p.m. -- The jury has left the courtroom and Jones said all of the evidence in the case has been presented. Gurley is trying, again, to have the charges dismissed.

"There's not sufficient evidence to support any of the elements of first-degree kidnapping," Gurley said. 

"His weapon caused his death," Gurley said.

"As to the charge of first-degree murder, the state has not met that," he added. "There is no evidence of any malice whatsoever."

"There was no unlawful killing," Gurley said.

Delbridge said it was a "cold-blooded" and "premeditated" act and believes it should be for the jury to decide Joyner's guilt or innocence.

4:57 p.m. -- Jones said he did "some work on this last night," in anticipation of another motion by the defense to dismiss.

"I have considered those again," he said.

"The possibilities of what happened in this case are many," Jones said.

So it is up to the jury, he said, to decide what the truth is -- and denied the motion to dismiss.

5:01 p.m. -- Jones is now beginning the charge conference. Our "Live from the courtroom" coverage will resume Thursday morning at 9:30 a.m.