DA’s Office Issues Progress Report for ’21 | News | thepilot.com – Southern Pines Pilot

Posted: December 22, 2021 at 12:33 am

Focusing on what it termed a backlogged case load, the Moore-Hoke District Attorneys Office closed almost 1,600 felony cases pending in Superior Court this past year, according to a newly released status report.

District Attorney Mike Hardin, who took office Jan. 1, issued the report to demonstrate the work his prosecutors accomplished this year.

It has been a busy year, Hardin said.

According to data supplied by the Administrative Office of the Courts, Hardins office had closed 1,584 felony cases as of Dec. 1. That compares to 601 cases closed in 2018; 719 cases closed in 2019 and 657 cases closed in 2020, according to the Administrative Office of the Courts.

Operating under coronavirus protocols imposed by state judicial officials, prosecutors conducted 16 jury trials in the two-county district. Hardin said his staff focused on serious cases involving defendants who had been held in jail for longer periods of time.

Jesse Martin and Debra Dorsett were charged on Aug. 22, 2014 with murder in connection with the death of 71-year-old Elden Kitson Vanderwal on Aug. 23. Vanderwal's body was found after a fire in a home at 216 Brewer Road near Seagrove. An autopsy later showed he was murdered before the fire was set.

Both Martin and Dorsett had been held in custody for nearly seven years.

Martin received a sentence of between 13 years, eight months to 17 years, five months. Dorsett received a sentence between 13 years, one month to 16 years, nine months.

Co-defendant Dannie Smith was not in custody but his case had been pending the same length of time. The file contained information showing that he was innocent of the charges, and prosecutors dismissed charges.

Montice McManus was charged on Oct. 28, 2016 with murder in connection with the death of 12-year-old Jalinda Campbell, who was shot in the chest standing outside a duplex apartment in the 700 block of West Michigan Avenue. Jalinda had been a popular student at Southern Middle School at the time of the shooting. Police say another standing nearby was the intended target of the drive-by shooting.

McManus had been held in custody for nearly five years awaiting trial. He received a sentence of 16-20 years in prison.

Jose Angel Castillo was charged April 1, 2017 with statutory sex offense, statutory rape, indecent liberties and been in custody nearly four years awaiting trial. He was sentenced to serve between eight years, eight months to 15 years, five months.

Willie Williams was charged with murder on June 17, 2018 in connection with the death of a popular Southern Pines, DJ, 65-year-old, Robert Davis. Davis was shot to death in his Southern Pines home and found on Fathers Day.

Williams had been waiting in jail for three years for his case. Hardin said Superior Court Judge James Webb had issued a speedy trial order in this case in 2019. When set for trial, he pleaded guilty and received a sentence of life in prison without parole.

Freeman Scott Ireland was charged on Sept. 28, 2018 with second-degree rape and had been in custody nearly three years. He received a maximum sentence of three years, eight months.

Mathew West was charged on Aug. 2, 2019 with statutory sex offense, indecent liberties, statutory rape and dissemination of obscene material and had been in custody for nearly three years awaiting trial. He received a maximum sentence of 17 years.

Dallas Walters Jr. was charged with murder on June 10, 2019 in connection with the death of Rex Hayes Watson, a 57-year-old who was found dead at a home the men shared off Rollins Road in Vass. Walters had been in custody nearly two years awaiting trial. Walters received a maximum sentence of 17.66 years in prison.

Jose Silva Jr was charged on Feb. 14, 2019 with first-degree sexual exploitation, indecent liberties, second-degree sexual exploitation, and statutory rape of a child by an adult. He had been in custody for nearly two years awaiting trial. Silva received a maximum sentence of almost 40 years in prison.

Jerry Rickett was charged with first-degree statutory sex offense on March 1, 2019 and had been in custody for more than two years. He received a maximum sentence of more than 24 years in prison.

Jacob Lee, an ex-Army paratrooper charged with drunkenly assaulted the elderly owners of a Southern Pines bed and breakfast in February, 2020, pleaded guilty to first-degree burglary andfelonious assault. He received a maximum prison sentence of slightly more than 18 years in prison.

Additionally, Hardins office attempted to work on the backlog of old cases that had been sitting in District Court.

In March, shortly after taking office, Hardins office identified 74 Driving While Impaired cases pending in Moore County District Court, with dates of offense from 2019 or earlier.

In an effort to dispose of these, Hardin requested a special four-day session of district court.

As a result, 46 DWI cases were scheduled for trial. Of those, 35 were dispatched, with 31 resulting in guilty verdicts. Overall, the special session ended in an 88.5 percent conviction rate with closure of nearly half of the backlogged cases.

Hardin said in his report he was proud of several other accomplishments this year, including greater outreach by his staff. He said that although a staff member may have spoken with crime victims by phone previously, they had never actually met with the attorney in their case.

Hardin said the office also dedicated a new childrens room in the Moore County office to accommodate child victims.

And he said prosecutors began mandatory stamping of serious felony files, allowing law enforcement to sit down and discuss these cases shortly after cases were charged.

Moore County had been in its own judicial district until lawmakers combined it with Hoke County, effective at the beginning of 2021. Maureen Krueger had been district attorney since 2007 and had announced plans to seek re-election in 2020 but later withdrew those plans and instead supported her assistant prosecutor, Arthur Donadio, for the post. Hardin beat Donadio in a March 2020 Republican primary. No Democrat ran for the post.

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DA's Office Issues Progress Report for '21 | News | thepilot.com - Southern Pines Pilot

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