BY MIKE FUHRMAN

A forensic analyst testified in Iredell County Superior Court on Thursday that the bullet that killed Freeman Jacobi Wells in January of 2018 was fired from a weapon that was later seized from one of the men charged in Wells’ death.

The testimony of former state crime lab firearms analyst Justin Kirk came during the final day of testimony in the murder trial of Kevin Turner. Jury deliberations are scheduled to begin Friday after closing arguments.

Kevin Turner

Turner, 29, is the first of a dozen co-defendants brought to trial in connection with the January 6, 2018, staying of Wells, who was hit in the head by a bullet when a barrage of rounds was fired into his home on Hickory Avenue early that morning. Wells died later that day from a devastating brain injury, according to a forensic pathologist who conducted the autopsy.

Turner, who told Judge Greg Horne on Thursday that he would not testify, is charged with first-degree murder and six counts of attempted murder. He faces a sentence of life in prison if he is convicted.

Kirk, who resigned his position in February 2020, told the jury that the crime lab was sent dozens of shell casings and projectiles recovered from the crime scene at 524 Hickory Avenue by Statesville police investigators.

As part of the investigation into Wells’ death, the state crime lab also received seven firearms seized from co-defendant Enrico Heggins and the Mocksville motel room where he was staying six days after Wells’ death.

Kirk told the jury that his analysis conclusively determined that shell casings and projectiles from the crime scene had been fired by two of the seized firearms. A third gun could not be conclusively tied to the shell casings and cartridges sent to the lab for analysis, Kirk said, but it also could not be ruled out as being used in the shooting, Kirk said.

As many as nine weapons were fired at the home Hickory Avenue, according to Kirk’s analysis. SPD personnel, who responded to the scene about 3 a.m., recovered evidence that at least 74 rounds were fired at the home occupied by Wells and five other people, including two children.

Twenty-five cartridges and bullets were tied conclusively tied to a mini Draco seized that was submitted for analysis, Kirk testified. Among those bullets was the one removed from Wells’ brain during the autopsy, he told the jury.

Heggins, who was known as “Big Shitty, “400” and “Big Unc,” was carrying the mini Draco that was sent for analysis when he was arrested while leaving the Scottish Inn in Mocksville at 4:53 a.m. on January 12, 2018, Davie County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Colt Poindexter told the jury on Thursday.

Assistant District Attorney Mikko Red Arrow rested the prosecution’s case Friday following the testimony of Poindexter, Kirk and Statesville police Detective Cristy Cleary.

The prosecution’s case against Turner, built over seven days through the testimony of 19 witnesses and more than 200 exhibits, is largely built on circumstantial evidence. Only one witness, co-defendant Antown Taylor, placed Turner at the crime scene, where Taylor said “everybody” was shooting.

Red Arrow contends that Turner was one of 12 men who acted in concert to kill Wells. Under North Carolina law, the prosecutor does not have to prove that Turner fired the fatal round, only that he participated in the criminal acts of the group that resulted in Wells’ death. 

According to earlier witness testimony, the shooting was carried out because one of the co-defendants, Rick Chambers, believed that Wells — who was known as “YG” — had shot him during a house party in November of 2017.

Many of the suspects — including Chambers, Turner, Heggins and Taylor — were at a birthday party at Rita Avenue that began the night before the shooting and carried over into the early morning hours, according to witness testimony.

At some point, witness Karessa Butler told the jury on Wednesday, someone at the party said, “Let’s ride out.”

A group of men, including Turner, then left the party in two SUVs and a Chevrolet Malibu that belonged to Taylor’s fiancée, according to witness testimony. When they returned two hours later, Butler testified, members of the group were upset, and there were two fights among the men.

The group’s mood improved later when someone at the Rita Avenue home read on Facebook that someone in Statesville had been shot in the head, Butler said. Several people at the party drank celebratory shots of liquor after hearing the news, she told the jury.

At the conclusion of the prosecution’s case, defense attorney John Basinger told Judge Horne that he would not present additional evidence in the trial.

Basinger also asked the judge to dismiss the charges against Turner, arguing that the state had not offered credible testimony that he had fired a weapon or intended to kill anyone inside the home at 524 Hickory Avenue. The judge denied that motion.

Closing arguments are scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday.


Related

DAY 1: Murder trial begins in shooting death of Statesville man; prosecutor describes crime scene as ‘war zone’ | Iredell Free News

DAY 2: Shooting victim’s mother testifies during second day of murder trial in Iredell County Superior Court | Iredell Free News

DAY 3: Prosecution witness details actions of co-defendant, associates in Turner murder trial | Iredell Free News

DAY 4: Prosecution witness: Defendant was part of group that opened fire on murder victim’s home | Iredell Free News

DAY 5: Prosecution witness set to provide evidence of motive in Turner murder trial | Iredell Free News

DAY 6: Prosecution witness: Group of men went looking for murder victim on morning he was fatally wounded | Iredell Free News

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