A Mount Olive man entered an Alford plea to involuntary manslaughter in Wayne County Superior Court for the 2017 fatal shooting of Carlis Benton.

Superior Court Judge Henry Stevens sentenced 32-year-old Joshua Davis to 20 months minimum to 33 months maximum in prison on May 30. Davis entered an Alford guilty plea to a lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter and possession of a firearm by felon.

An Alford plea treats defendants as guilty whether or not the defendant admits guilt.

In addition to accepting the Alford plea, the court dismissed one charge for first-degree murder in connection with the death of Carlos Darden, said Davis Weddle, assistant district attorney.

Garner police officers and members of the U.S. Marshals Violent Offender Task Force arrested Davis at a motel in Garner on Nov. 22, 2017, in connection with a Nov. 18, 2017, double homicide at 605 Second St. in Goldsboro.

The fatal shooting occurred around 2:50 a.m. at a “liquor house,” Weddle said. Goldsboro police responded to a shots-fired call at the house as two victims, Benton and Darden, drove to Wayne UNC Health Care in separate personal vehicles.

Davis, suffering a gunshot wound to the left arm, arrived at the hospital shortly after Benton and Darden. While in the emergency room, Davis and friends of Benton and Darden argued and fought, Weddle said.

Davis received treatment for his injury and left the hospital, but Darden and Benton succumbed to their wounds.

Police processing the crime scene found around 22 spent shell casings, 22 projectiles and fragments of projectiles and multiple types of ammunition components in the house’s backyard, Weddle said.

A witness spoke to police about the Nov. 18 shooting and told officers he saw Davis and a man exit the house on Second Street and followed, Weddle said. The witness told police Benton and Darden left the house a few minutes later with around six other people and a shooting broke out.

The witness told police he saw Benton shooting a gun and Davis shooting toward Benton’s direction before Benton “went down,” Weddle said. The eyewitness statement is consistent with gun shell casings recovered at the scene, he said.

“He did not say anything about seeing Mr. Darden get shot, or who shot Mr. Darden,” Weddle said. “That was pretty much the evidence in the case.”

A Wayne County grand jury indicted Davis on first-degree murder charges for the death of Benton and Darden on Aug. 6, 2018.

“I think the Goldsboro Police Department did a very good job with what they had to work with,” Weddle said. “This is one of these issues that is a real problem in Goldsboro.

“You’ll have 100 people at a scene of a crime and maybe one person says they saw something. That’s a real issue here is that nobody wants to say anything.”