Jury finds Joyner guilty of murder

Published 5:06 pm Tuesday, September 26, 2023

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WINTON – A Cofield man will spend the rest of his life in prison after being found guilty of first-degree murder during last week’s session of Hertford County Superior Court.

Following the three-day trial, the jury found 24-year-old Terrence Joyner guilty of murdering Vashaun Smith Jr. of Ahoskie. Superior Court Judge J.C. Cole sentenced Joyner to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Smith, age 18 at the time of his death, was a standout athlete at Hertford County High School where the Beta Club student dreamed of playing college football at North Carolina A&T State University. Smith was also an assistant coach for Ridgecroft School’s junior varsity boys basketball team, where his father, Malcolm Harrell, served as the team’s head coach at that time.

Due to the extensive pretrial coverage, it took local District Attorney Kim Scott and Defense Attorney Rob Slaughter nearly two days to select jury members not familiar with the case.

The State’s evidence at trial showed that Joyner was involved in a love triangle with Smith. On Feb. 26, 2021, Joyner, armed with a handgun, followed Smith and his girlfriend from Walgreens in Ahoskie into Bertie County, and back into Hertford County. Upon arriving at Smith’s residence, a physical altercation ensued at which time Joyner assaulted Smith and his mother. Shortly thereafter, Smith was shot and killed.

Joyner immediately turned himself in to the Hertford County Sheriff’s Office. He was in possession of a handgun at that time, which was seized as evidence.

“The State of North Carolina hopes that the verdict in this criminal case brings some closure to the family resulting from this horrible tragedy,” said Scott. “Without the service of the jurors of Hertford County, we would not have been able to resolve this matter. We want to thank the jury for their time and patience in working together to render a verdict.

“The team at the District Attorney’s Office would also like to thank the Hertford County Sheriff’s Office for their hard work and dedication to the investigation and prosecution of this case,” Scott added. “Assistant District Attorneys Glenn Perry and John Lohman worked tirelessly to seek justice on Vashaun’s behalf. Our office is committed to continuing the fight to protect our community and victims of crime.”

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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