Jury selection for the double-homicide trial of 30-year-old Daniel DeFoe is slated to begin Jan. 31.
He is accused of taking part in a pair of robberies and murders that left one man bludgeoned to death with a metal pipe in East Rockingham and another shot to death in Hamlet.
DeFoe’s accomplice, 32-year-old Jason Matthew Patton, of Hamlet, remains in county jail awaiting his own murder trial. The state will also seek the death penalty against him.
North Carolina Attorney General’s Office Spokeswoman Noelle Talley confirmed a pair of special deputy attorney generals will argue for DeFoe to be put to death for the two crimes. They are H. Dean Bowman and G. Patrick Murphy.
Rockingham Attorney R. Thomas Nichols said he will lead the defense team, but declined to discuss any specifics of the case. DeFoe is also represented by Rockingham Attorney Ira Pittman.
Cabarrus County Resident Superior Court Judge Erwin Spainhour will preside over the trial, which is expected to take up to six weeks, according to Richmond County Clerk of Court Kathy Gainey.
DeFoe was 25 at the time of the murders. He was captured in Longs, S.C., at the home of relatives of his then 18-year-old girlfriend, Tiffany Nichole Strickland. Strickland was charged with two counts of accessory to murder after the fact. She is accused of providing transportation and accompanying DeFoe across state lines following the second murder.
She is now 23, and awaits her own trial.
The two men are accused of murdering 47-year-old Billy Medford of Hamlet, as well as 26-year-old Laxavier Henry of Rockingham, during a series of home break-ins and robberies in the county. Murder investigation reports were filed in both cases on the same day with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office.
On March 24, 2006, a Crimestoppers tip led investigators to a home on Wilshire Avenue in Hamlet where Medford was found slumped to the floor in a bedroom with two apparent gunshot wounds.
The RCSO was assisted by the State Bureau of Investigation in the case.
Deputies then received information about a possible suspect, Patton, and brought him in for questioning. Richmond County Sheriff Dale Furr said he then cooperated with the investigation and told them about the second body buried off of Ghio Road south of Hamlet.
Furr also said robbery was the motive for the murders.
Henry’s body was found in a shallow grave Patton led them to. He’d apparently been buried for about two weeks after being bludgeoned in the head with a metal pipe.
Arrest reports indicate the murder took place at a mobile home on Broadway Street in East Rockingham.
A family member had reported Henry missing on March 17, but investigators believe he was most likely killed on or about the last day he was seen alive, March 9.
Following their arrests for the murders, DeFoe and Patton were also charged in a series of area break-ins involving $25,000 worth of property stolen.
Patton was charged with nine felony counts of breaking and entering and larceny after breaking and entering, and DeFoe received six counts of the same charges.
Before their arrests, DeFoe was sporadically employed as a car wash attendant. His employment history lists work at two different car washes in Aberdeen.
Patton was employed at Patton’s Auto Sales in Hamlet.
Staff Writer Philip D. Brown can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ext. 32, or by e-mail at email@example.com.