Davis

BEAUFORT — Defendant Jhaden Davis sat quietly in a cold and largely empty courtroom Wednesday morning as his defense, the prosecution and Judge W. Douglas Parsons worked through the details of his upcoming double murder case.

Jury selection is set to begin in the trial Monday, July 17, when Mr. Davis faces two counts of first-degree murder in the June 2012 slaying of Albert and Duane Correll of Beaufort.

If convicted, he could spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole.

“I would ask that … we could start testimony no earlier than Thursday, the 20th at 9:30 a.m.,” Assistant District Attorney David Spence, the state’s prosecutor, requested this week as Judge Parsons heard pretrial motions in County Superior Court.

In addition to the murder charges, Mr. Davis, 26, faces two other counts, one for armed robbery and one for conspiracy to commit armed robbery.

The case stems from a June 2, 2012, incident that left Albert Correll, 20, and his father, Duane Correll, 50, dead after they were gunned down outside their home off Taylor Farm Road.

Less than two weeks later, authorities arrested three men in connection with the killings – Mr. Davis, then 21 and a U.S. Navy Corpsman; Joseph Pirrotta, then 24 and recently dishonorably discharged from the Navy; and Brandon Smallwood, then 23 and a Navy Corpsman assigned to U.S. Marine Corps Camp Lejeune.

Mr. Spence declined to comment Wednesday on the motive in the slayings, but immediately following the murders in 2012, investigators said they believed a previous altercation over money led to the double homicide.

At the time, detectives said the evidence indicated the suspects waited for the Corrells at their home, intending to rob Albert, who was returning from a trip to Walmart in Morehead City.

They believed Mr. Davis and Albert Correll were familiar with one another.

More than five years after the incident, Mr. Davis will finally have his day in court next month.

In June 2015, a retired Marine recovered a .40-caliber handgun matching the murder weapon’s description while diving off Emerald Isle and turned it over to authorities.

The serial number on the weapon had been filed off, but in pretrial motions Wednesday, Mr. Spence told Judge Parsons ballistics had confirmed the weapon was used in the Correll slayings.

At least one official with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which aided in the investigation, is set to testify to that effect, the prosecutor confirmed.

Mr. Pirrotta, who took a plea, has become a witness for the state and is expected to testify as well during Mr. Davis’ trial, along with a potential 50 to 60 other witnesses called on by the state.

The third man, Mr. Smallwood, faces lesser charges of accessory after the fact and has yet to resolve his case.

Mr. Davis’ case will go to jury trial where he faces the possibility of life without parole on both murder charges.

He seemed unruffled Wednesday in superior court, observing the proceedings and occasionally consulting with his attorney, Richard McNeil.

Mr. McNeil could not be reached for comment on the case by presstime.

Judge Parsons opted to hold off granting a motion requested by Mr. Spence to immediately suspend Mr. Davis’ phone privileges to a specific list of call recipients.

The assistant district attorney said his office found evidence Mr. Davis has allegedly been calling witnesses and others outside the Carteret County detention center, sometimes in three-way calls.

“At this time, when we have witnesses under subpoena, I don’t think it’s appropriate for the defendant to be in contact with those people,” Mr. Spence told the judge.

He said the conversations were not threatening, but “rambling,” and alleged Mr. Davis had called some witnesses multiple times.

“They also have no point, except to say ‘I’m still here, I still know about you,’ ” the prosecutor said.

Additionally, Mr. Davis was accused of asking other parties to contact witnesses on his behalf.

The defense objected and Judge Parsons held the motion, saying he did not have adequate information to rule on suspending Mr. Davis’ phone privileges.

Motions requested from the defense Wednesday largely pertained to ensuring information sharing between his office and the state, establishing a questionnaire for potential jurors and possibly sequestering witnesses.

Both attorneys said they expect jury selection to last two to three days, with the trial beginning immediately after and running several weeks.

Contact Jackie Starkey at 252-726-7081, ext. 232; email jackie@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @jackieccnt.

(5) comments

CARTERETISCORRUPT

Don't have a dog in this fight, but some observations:

1. The state wants to have sole contact with "witnesses", interesting.
2. Testimony from Pirrotta, who took a plea deal, testifying against the
defendant? Interesting.
3. A diver finding the weapon off Emerald Isle. Unless it can be tied to the
accused, is worthless. Interesting it was found in the vast ocean though.
4. Defendant held five years before trial? Interesting.

Don't know of guilt or innocence. But one thing is for sure, Carteret County is
no place to go to trial. Very bad indeed, for a defendant.

NC-Native-Son

@Cart...corrupt.

Not so fast. Carteret County has some of the most inept prosecutors in the state. Mr. Spence is the only one who has the skill to prosecute this case, more so than his boss.

1. Once witnesses are listed, they are fair game for interview by a competent defense team.
2. Agreed, plea deals always sound fishy to me, but I am not on the jury.
3. Ballistics identified the handgun as the murder weapon. There are definite ways to recovered a filed off serial number by etching processes. Vast ocean but all kinds of things discarded near shore end up washing up as I am sure you have seen.
4. Five years is way too long. Half that time is way too long. Juries in Carteret County are fair, I know first hand. The travesty is that cases are held here so long that they hope for a plea deal. That is the corrupt part. Bad indeed.

CARTERETISCORRUPT

Ballistics, and methods of recovery of serial numbers (secondary to the imprint made in the metal during manufacture) are great. But unless the handgun can be tied to the accused, at the most would show the weapon did or did not fire the fatal round.

It remains, the weapon must be linked to the accused. If not, its not of value.

Spence is as his peers. Prosecution of known innocent individuals has occurred. I have retained evidence of this, without question. And not only one case either. Video and photographic evidence, along with witnesses does not lie.

Spence and his peers, do two things well:

1. Pile charges on a accused, to try and effect plea, hence plump up conviction
rates.

2. Secondary to above, hold charges over accused's head for long periods of
time as this affects one's job, income, reputation, Second Amendment rights
and others. This pressure is an effort to effect plea.

3. Juries: This is the only thing not controlled by the government, at least not
totally. Jury instructions can be wrong, but jury nullification is the juries
right. Seldom, if ever, are juries instructed on jury nullification.

4. Competent. There is a key word. There are extremely few competent
defense attorneys in Carteret County. There are some who appear as
such, but only through back room deals and connections. (Additionally
drug testing of all court officers are sorely needed).

5. The jury has nothing to do with a plea deal, at all. This is between the
respective parties and the judge. The jury hears evidence, and renders
a verdict, not weigh in on plea deals.

And to reinforce a previous point, although not directly pertinent to this issue, is to always demand jury trial. Never accept a district court judge verdict. This is everyone's right. See number 3 above.

JusticeForAll

If you have evidence of known prosecution of innocent individuals, then why have you not turned it over to all the proper authorities? And if you have, why have they not acted? Have you gone to the news outlets? What were the results?

What if your crimes had been recorded? Your address would be different.

BTW, that abandoned boat in the creek, that was a featured pic a month or so ago, looked awfully familiar, didn't it?

JusticeForAll

Why are we still being exposed to such atrocities when evidence is there to stop it? If you have evidence, then bring it. Don't leave citizens of Carteret County exposed when it can be proven. It should be addressed immediately.

Welcome to the discussion.

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