Murder trial underway

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 5, 2007

WINTON – Pre-trial motions and jury selection dominated yesterday’s (Monday) portion of a murder trial being heard here this week in Hertford County Criminal Superior Court.

Derrick Horton of Newport News, Va. is on trial for the alleged Sept. 30, 2003 murder of Bobby Lee Harrell Jr. of Ahoskie. Horton stands charged with felony murder in the first degree as well as two counts of robbery with a dangerous weapon and two counts of possession of a firearm by a felon.

During Monday’s pre-trial motions, Horton’s attorney, J. Hackney High of Edenton, attempted to suppress some of the state’s evidence. Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Cy Grant, who is presiding over the case, denied two defense motions, but did reserve judgment on one other.

Potential jurors were dismissed during the pre-trial motions. They were instructed by Judge Grant to be back in the courtroom by 2 p.m. where the jury selection process was scheduled to begin.

Assistant District 6B Attorney Assata Buffaloe is prosecuting the case.

Harrell, 19 at the time of his death, was shot and killed shortly past 12 noon on Sept. 30 in the area of First and Maple streets in Ahoskie. There, a witness said two black males exited a car and approached several men, including Harrell, standing alongside the street. It was reported in court on Monday that a possible drug deal was involved prior to allegations that Horton, along with Latif Ivan Irby, also of Newport News, Va., produced handguns and discharged those weapons.

Apparently, one of the bullets struck Powell as he attempted to flee. He later died as result of a gunshot wound to his upper chest.

The shooting suspects left the crime scene by a vehicle, but were arrested a short time later in Ahoskie following a high-speed chase.

Along with Horton and Irby, three others in the vehicle were arrested – Desmond Horton of Roanoke Rapids, Dana Smith of Newport News, Va. and James Risper of Roanoke Rapids. They were charged with accessory after the fact of first-degree murder.