BEAUFORT — The 25-year-old man accused of murder in a Jan. 9 shooting in Emerald Isle made a first appearance in Carteret County District Court Thursday.
Patrick Keith-Reich Whitley, 25, faces one open count of murder and one count of first-degree arson in the death of Carl Eugene Jones Jr. of Newport.
In a press conference following the appearance, authorities said Mr. Whitley admitted shooting Mr. Jones at the house at 107 Melanie St. and lighting the structure on fire to cover the crime.
“We know that Mr. Whitley had an animus toward Mr. Jones,” Emerald Isle Police Chief Tony Reese said.
Investigators allege Mr. Whitley lured Mr. Jones to the home, which belongs to Mr. Whitley’s grandparents, under the pretense of paying the Newport man for previous work.
There, Mr. Whitley allegedly shot and killed Mr. Jones.
After the shooting, Mr. Whitley fled the area and was located in Corpus Christi, Texas, where he turned himself in to authorities Jan. 19, according to the Emerald Isle Police Department.
He arrived back in Carteret County Wednesday for a first appearance on the pair of charges.
Garbed in a traditional orange jumpsuit and smirking at onlookers as he entered the courtroom, Mr. Whitley’s appearance Thursday morning lasted less than 3 minutes.
Judge Clinton Rowe ordered he be held without bond and set his next court date for Friday, Feb. 14. He will be assigned a public defender.
The defendant spoke only once during the proceedings, responding “yes ma’am” when asked if information provided in his affidavit was true.
Mr. Whitley faces the possibility of life in prison or the death sentence on the murder charge, while the arson charge carries a maximum penalty of 204 months, or 17 years.
“I’m confident in the conclusions that have been reached as the result of our investigation, and I’m extremely proud of the hard work and collaborative effort of the agencies involved in this case,” Chief Reese said following the court appearance.
He called the murder “very rare” for the Bogue Banks town and said he believes it is the first “true homicide” there since 1991.
“This is extremely unusual for Emerald Isle. First one in my career, I’ve been there for 20 years… So, there is no need for the public to panic or worry,” Chief Reese continued. “This is two people who knew each other, and this occurred for the reasons that will come out in the trial.”
District Attorney Scott Thomas said his office is awaiting the full investigatory file before moving forward with indictments to send the case to superior court.
Contact Jackie Starkey at 252-726-7081, ext. 225; email firstname.lastname@example.org; or follow on Twitter @jackieccnt.
BEAUFORT — The 25-year-old man accused of murder in a Jan. 9 shooting in Emerald Isle made his first appearance before a judge in Carteret County District Court Thursday morning.
Authorities have charged Patrick Keith-Reich Whitley, 25, with one open count of murder and first-degree arson charges in the shooting death of Carl Eugene Jones Jr. of Newport.
Thursday, the judge ordered Mr. Whitley be held with no bond and set his next court date for Friday, Feb. 14. He will be assigned a public defender.
This is a developing report.