Murder conviction brings life in prison

Published 8:16 am Saturday, January 15, 2011

WINTON – A domestic violence case that took a deadly turn just over four years ago came to an end here Thursday in Hertford County Superior Court.

Curtis Lee Thomas, 40, of Norfolk, Va. was found guilty of first degree murder, attempted murder and first degree burglary at the conclusion of a four-day jury trial. Thomas stood accused of the Dec. 9, 2006 murder of Travis Mebane of Ahoskie and the attempted murder of Ahoskie resident Vershaughna Holloman.

For the murder conviction, Resident Superior Court Judge Cy Grant handed down a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. He also added a sentence of 501-to-620 months (41-to-51 years) for the attempted murder and first degree burglary convictions. The latter pair will run at the expiration of the murder sentence.

“This is another horrible example of domestic violence which ends in tragedy,” said local District Attorney Valerie Asbell who tried the case on behalf of the State of North Carolina.

In regards to domestic abuse crimes, Asbell said statistics show that battered women who leave their abusers increase their risk of being seriously injured or murdered.

“I am so proud of Ms. Holloman and her daughter for coming forward and testifying in this case so that Curtis Thomas would spend the rest of his life in prison,” Asbell stated. “I hope that this verdict will help bring some closure to Travis Mabine’s family and also Ms. Holloman.  May God continue to bless these families while they recover from such a horrific tragedy.”

Asbell noted that unlike 16 years ago, life behind bars without the possibility of parole means that Thomas will die in prison.

“At least these families will know that Mr. Thomas will never come out of prison,” she stressed.

Holloman was the first witness called by the State. Her testimony revealed that she and Thomas had been involved in a relationship for about three years before the date of this offense and had previously lived in Norfolk, Va. She testified their relationship involved many instances of domestic violence where Thomas had assaulted Holloman which resulted in her hospitalization.

Around September of 2006 while Thomas was incarcerated in the Norfolk, Va. Jail, Holloman relocated to Ahoskie along with her four children.  In November of that year, Thomas came to North Carolina and resided with Holloman until the violence started again when Thomas knocked out Holloman’s front teeth.  The evidence presented showed that Holloman then took Thomas back to Norfolk and ended their relationship.

The evidence also showed that Holloman then started dating Travis Mabine.  On December 8, 2006, Holloman testified she started receiving many threatening phone calls from Thomas.  In the early morning hours of December 9, 2006, Thomas broke into Holloman’s Ahoskie apartment, located on Hayes Street, and began shooting a large black firearm at Holloman and Mabine, who was also inside the residence at that time. Mabine was shot in the upper right side of the chest under his arm and Holloman was shot in the leg.

Additional evidence showed that Holloman began fighting with the defendant at which time he began beating her repeatedly with the base of the gun. At that point, Holloman’s daughter awoke and witnessed Thomas threatening to kill her mother and shooting the gun and saw Holloman fight back and push Thomas off of the back balcony of the apartment while the other three children were in the apartment.

The Ahoskie Police Department responded to the shooting and was unable to locate the suspect.

Meanwhile, Holloman and Mabine were transported to Roanoke-Chowan Hospital from where Mabine was flown to Pitt County Memorial Hospital in Greenville where he died later that day.

Although these crimes were committed in December of 2006, Thomas was a fugitive from justice for over a year when he was arrested by the Norfolk Police Department for outstanding Virginia felony warrants. He was also served at that time with the Ahoskie warrant, charging him with the  first degree murder of Mabine. Thomas then served a sentence in the Virginia Department of Corrections before he could be extradited back to North Carolina to face these murder charges.

“I would like to commend Lieutenant Jeremy Roberts of the Ahoskie Police Department for his excellent investigation of this case,” Asbell said Friday. “Jeremy continuously investigated this case and constantly kept in contact with the Norfolk and Newport News (Va.) Police Departments until Thomas’ arrest.  I would also like to personally thank Detective Carlos Nunez of the Newport News Police Department for his tireless efforts in helping my Investigator, Brien Lassiter, in locating witnesses and other parts of this investigation. Det. Nunez had absolutely nothing to do with this case but spent many hours of his time helping my office because he wanted justice to be served.”

Thomas was represented by attorneys Ernest “Buddy” Conner and Wayne Conner of Greenville.

Asbell was aided in the court proceedings by Assistant District Attorney Assata Buffaloe.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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