BEAUFORT — The murder of a father and son just outside the town’s limits stemmed from a previous altercation in May over money, according to the County Sheriff’s Department.
The department held a press conference Monday, giving a few more details about the double homicide committed June 2. The three suspects facing charges in the crime had their first court appearance prior to the conference.
Detectives believe Jhaden Davis, 21, an active duty Navy corpsman assigned to Barracks 121 aboard Camp Lejeune, shot and killed Albert Correll, 20, and his father Duane Correll, 50, outside their residence on Taylor Farm Road. Mr. Davis was allegedly accompanied by Joseph Pirrotta, 24, of 1300 Ann St. in Beaufort. The Navy recently dishonorably discharged Mr. Pirrotta, according to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
According to Capt. Jason Wank, chief detective with the department, the two defendants intended to rob Albert Correll of his wallet and money. The captain said they waited near the Taylor Farm Road residence for the victims to return from shopping at Walmart in Morehead City, and then followed them home.
Mr. Davis and Albert Correll were apparently familiar with each other. Capt. Wank said there was a previous altercation in May between Albert Correll, a third party and Mr. Davis over money, in which money was allegedly stolen from Mr. Davis. The captain said he couldn’t specify an amount as the investigation is still ongoing, but the third party is believed to have taken the money. Albert Correll was apparently a go-between in the situation, Capt. Wank said.
Mr. Davis allegedly shot the two victims with a .40-caliber handgun. Mr. Davis and Mr. Pirrotta then allegedly fled the scene in a borrowed Toyota Corolla and went to Mr. Pirrotta’s residence, where they met the third defendant, Brandon Smallwood, 23. Mr. Smallwood is also an active Navy corpsman assigned to Camp Lejeune. He is charged with providing false alibis for the other two suspects.
Capt. Wank said Mr. Pirrotta and Mr. Davis had a .40-caliber weapon prior to the shooting, which is no longer in their possession. Authorities have not recovered the murder weapon and believe it may be difficult to do so.
Albert Correll’s wallet was recovered near the scene.
In the days after the murders, the three suspects were interviewed several times and all gave false information, Capt. Wank said. On Thursday, the sheriff’s department presented the District Attorney’s Office with its evidence and, with the assistance of NCIS agents from Camp Lejeune and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Fire and Explosives, made the arrests early Friday.
After the arrests, Mr. Smallwood and Mr. Pirrotta both cooperated with law enforcement, according to Capt. Wank.
Mr. Davis and Mr. Pirrotta have been charged with two counts of murder, one count of armed robbery and one count of conspiracy to commit robbery. The maximum penalties include life in prison without parole and death. Both are being held in the county jail without bond.
Mr. Smallwood is charged with two counts of accessory after the fact. He faces up to 20 years in prison and is being held on a $1 million bond.
All three were brought into the courtroom one at a time wearing bright orange jail jumpsuits, with their arms and legs in cuffs. All three requested court-appointed attorneys, though Mr. Smallwood originally requested a military attorney.
Mr. Davis will be represented by Richard McNeil of McNeil and Associates of Jacksonville. Mr. Pirrotta will be represented by William Gerrans of Gerrans, Foster and Sargeant PA of Kinston. Mr. Smallwood’s attorney was not known at presstime.
Joe Kennedy, special agent with the NCIS, commended Sheriff Asa Buck and his detectives for their work in the case. “My hat’s off to the sheriff and his team here,” he said. “This team came together like a well-oiled machine.”
Sheriff Buck also thanked those involved in the investigation, including the Beaufort Police Department, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, the NCIS and the ATF. “We appreciate them very much and thank them for their efforts,” he said.
Gina Correll, mother of Albert Correll, sat weeping through the court appearance and attended the press conference, but did not make any public statements.
The three defendants are scheduled to make their next court appearance July 6.