60+ years for Smallwood

Published 11:50 am Monday, November 13, 2017

WINTON – A three-day trial here this week ended with a Murfreesboro man sentenced to at least 63 years behind bars.

A Hertford County Superior Court jury returned guilty verdicts on 24-year-old Deangelo Devonte Smallwood for three counts of attempted murder, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury with intent to kill, one count of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, one count of discharging a firearm into an occupied vehicle that was in motion, and assault on a child under the age of 12.

After the verdicts were entered into the court record, Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Cy A. Grant Sr. sentenced Smallwood to 736-to-993 months active (63 to 82.75 years) in the North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections.

Deangelo Smallwood

According to sentencing guidelines, Smallwood must serve every day of the minimum sentence of 63 years before becoming eligible for any type of post-release supervision.

Meanwhile, in an unrelated case, Smallwood has a pending trial for one count of first degree murder in the Dec. 5, 2015 shooting death of DaMarco Trevon Duncan of Temple Hills, Maryland.

Duncan was a junior at Chowan University at the time of his death. He was attending an off-campus private party at Sandy Shores Lounge, an establishment located just north of Murfreesboro off US 258, where he was shot and killed. Smallwood was charged in Duncan’s murder on May 20, 2016.

The trial this week was for Smallwood’s involvement in a March 26, 2016 shooting that occurred at Serenity Mobile Home Park, located on Wise’s Store Road just outside of Murfreesboro.

At the trial, presided over by Judge Grant, the State of North Carolina was represented by District Attorney Valerie M. Asbell and Assistant District Attorney Kim Scott. Attorney Sam Webb represented Smallwood.

The victims in the March 26 shooting were Travis Eley, Trechelle Walton and their two-year-old son, Solomon.

Evidence presented by the state showed that on March 25, 2016, the victims lived at 108 Standing Land in the Serenity Mobile Home Park. The evidence showed that Eley and Walton and some family members were having a cookout on that afternoon at their home. At some point Eley and Earl Powell got into an altercation or fight. After the fight ended, Eley, Walton and their son left their home in the late afternoon and went to a relative’s house.

At some point later the same day, Eley received a call that his mobile home had been shot up. After receiving that information, Eley and Walton decided to spend the night in a hotel, but first had to return to their residence to get their identification.

Shortly after midnight on March 26, 2016, Eley, Walton and their son went back to their residence. Walton, the driver of the vehicle, pulled into her driveway and she and Eley stated they saw Deangelo Smallwood along with Earl Powell and Shenedoah Perry running from behind their barn towards their vehicle, shooting pistols and shotguns. Smallwood had a chrome pistol; Powell had a 40 caliber pistol; and Perry had a shotgun.

Eley was in the passenger side of the vehicle and he was struck in the eye by a shotgun blast. Walton was shot by a 40 caliber bullet through the windshield of the vehicle, striking her in the right temple, resulting in a bullet being lodged in her head.

In the back seat, little Solomon was holding a sippy cup in his car seat and a bullet grazed and broke his cup, although he remained unharmed.

Evidence showed that the vehicle was struck at least seven times by the 40 caliber bullets on the passenger side and in the headlight and the trunk. The front passenger side door of the vehicle was also shot with a shotgun at close range.

Following the shooting, Walton managed to drive to the Murfreesboro Police Department where Hertford County EMS was dispatched. Eley and Walton were airlifted to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville. Eley was later airlifted to a hospital in Chapel Hill.

Before being sent to Greenville, Eley was able to identify the three shooters to Hertford County Sheriff’s Lt. (now Sheriff) Dexter Hayes.

Additional evidence presented at the trial showed that since the shooting, Eley has lost sight in his right eye and has undergone numerous surgeries. Walton has also had multiple surgeries and still suffers from seizures and other health problems as a result of her gunshot wound.

During the trial, Sheriff Hayes testified to the high volume of violence, gang activity and criminal activity in the vicinity of the Serenity Mobile Home Park. Testimony was elicited at the trial indicating that Smallwood and the other defendants were gang members of the CRIP gang.

“Over the past 12 to 18 months, gun and gang violence has risen to the forefront of public consciousness, especially in this community,” stated Asbell. “Gangs bring with them drugs, weapons, and crime, conjuring fear and violence within our communities.

“Victims of these tragedies are not limited to those men, women, and children killed, injured, or present during these horrific events,” Asbell continued. “The consequences of gang and gun violence are more pervasive and affect entire communities, families, and children. Our neighborhoods are supposed to be safe for our children to go out and play. But now with all of this gun and gang violence, parents are scared for themselves and their children.”

Asbell stressed that she is dedicated to prosecuting these types of crimes to the fullest extent of the law.

“I hope this verdict will let the community know that we (District Attorney’s Office and local law enforcement officers) are taking gun and gang violence very seriously and are trying to make our communities a safer place to live,” she noted.

“I want to thank Sheriff Dexter Hayes and his department for their hard work on this case,” Asbell said. “I especially want to thank Detective Chase Oliver, former Detective William Barmer, and Lieutenant Tom Helms of the Hertford County Sheriff’s Office for their professionalism and excellent investigation during this case. Without great law enforcement and the willingness of the victims to testify, these crimes would be almost impossible to prosecute.”

Sheriff Hayes also made comments following the guilty verdicts and the subsequent sentencing of Smallwood.

“Justice was served for the victims in this case who had the courage to stand against gun violence,” he said. “If you commit these terrible crimes in my county, you will get caught, you will be prosecuted, and you will go to prison. I, along with my staff at the Hertford County Sheriff’s Office, will continue to provide a high quality of law enforcement service to our citizens.

“I would also like to say job well done to the District Attorney Valerie Asbell, Investigators Chase Oliver, Lt. Tom Helms, Sgt. Leon Eason, Keith Lassiter and former Investigator William Barmer. All of our hard work and long hours on this case paid off,” Hayes added.

The other two defendants in this case, Earl Powell and Shenondoah Perry, stood trial in mid-September of last year where a jury found them both guilty of the same charges lodged against Smallwood. Powell was also found guilty on one additional charge, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Powell was sentenced to 61.4 to 80.7 years while Perry received 32.9 to 43.5 years for their roles in the March, 2016 shooting at Serenity Mobile Home Park.

Like Smallwood, both Powell and Perry are required to serve every day of their minimum term in prison.

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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