April 07, 2015
Opening statements begin in Brunswick County murder trial
BOLIVIA | The moment Montey Murray learned 3-year-old Jaronn McAllister was dead, he left his grieving girlfriend at the hospital and raced to her apartment to collect his cousin and leave the state, a prosecutor said Tuesday.
After a week of jury selection, opening statements began in Brunswick County Superior Court in the first-degree murder trial of Murray in the March 1, 2012, death of Jaronn.
"Make no mistake about it," said Brunswick County Assistant District Attorney Quentin McGee, "when you have a child that's bruised along the head, bruised along the chest, has sustained blunt force trauma to the abdomen so severe that it lacerates his liver in five places, that is absolutely murder."
McGee told the eight-man, four-woman jury that Murray and Candace Young, Jaronn's mother, had been dating since 2010. On the night of Feb. 29, 2012, Murray and his cousin Jesse Holt arrived at Young's Shallotte apartment to stay with Jaronn while Young worked the third shift from 11:30 p.m. to 8 a.m. at a Wilmington business. Jaronn "worked the third shift," like his mother, McGee said.
"He would stay up late and sleep with his mom during the day," he explained, saying later that Murray may have become angry at the child for being rambunctious when Murray wanted to sleep.
At 1:39 a.m., according to McGee, Murray texted Young to say Jaronn had been scratched by puppies he'd brought over. A short time later, Murray sent another text referencing the dogs and Jaronn.
McGee said the next exchange was at 9:13 a.m. after Murray found Jaronn lifeless on the living room floor and sent Young a message that said, "I need you, now, now, now."
Murray then walked to neighbor LaShonda Hobbs' house and asked for a ride to the hospital, McGee said.
He said the first nurse to encounter Murray at Brunswick Novant Medical Center will testify that Murray said Jaronn was bit by a dog. Murray reportedly tells a second nurse the same thing.
When a third nurse sees "this 3-year-old child, beaten purple" and she asks Murray what happened, he said he didn't know. McGee noted there were no dog bites on the boy.
After Young joined Murray and Hobbs at the hospital, a doctor told the trio Jaronn was dead.
"As soon as that happens, Montey Murray bolts. He doesn't stay around with his grieving girlfriend who just heard the news that her only child is dead. … He goes right out that door and drives off immediately," McGee said. "And what does he do … he calls the mother of his two children, Nicole Williams, and the first thing he said when she picked up that phone: 'They're gonna get me for involuntary manslaughter.'"
McGee said Williams told police she was still on the phone with Murray when he got back to Young's apartment and woke Holt. "We gotta leave right now and go to South Carolina," McGee said Murray told Holt.
Then Murray led police on a high-speed chase on U.S. 17, ramming patrol cars, before being stopped and arrested, the prosecutor said.
Defense Attorney James Payne painted a different picture all together. He said Murray and Young had been a couple for three years and Murray loved Jaronn.
"He treated him just like his own son," Payne said.
He said Williams will testify that what Murray said to her on the phone was taken out of context. He said Holt will testify that Murray never came out of the bedroom after Young left the house, and that Holt spent the most time with Jaronn. Payne said Holt will also tell the jury that when Murray woke him up after he'd learned Jaronn was dead, Murray told Holt they were going to the hospital.
Payne said, the car chase, portrayed as Murray's bid to escape, was actually Murray racing back to the hospital.
The case could go into late next week.
Murray is charged with child abuse causing substantial bodily harm, assault with a deadly weapon on a government official and fleeing to elude arrest.
F.T. Norton: 343-2070
On Twitter: @FTNortonSN