A Burke County jury needed less than half an hour to convict a Morganton man of first-degree murder that led to a life sentence in prison on Tuesday, March 17, 2020.
Darius Heasley King, 27, was given the life sentence by the Honorable Alan Z. Thornburg, Superior Court Judge from Buncombe County, after he was found guilty in the March 2018 death of 57-year-old Hubert Roland Hunter Jr., to wrap a trial setting that covered seven days.
King will serve his sentence in the custody of the North Carolina Division of Adult Corrections.
The trial began on Monday, March 9, 2020, with jury selection, followed by the presentation of evidence by Prosecutors Lance Sigmon and Michelle Lippert that included testimony from a pathologist that showed the victim died as a result of strangulation.
The State presented evidence for four days, and Defense Attorney Matt Cabe offered evidence on behalf of his client on Monday, March 16. Following closing arguments on Tuesday morning, the jury needed about 20 minutes of deliberation to find King guilty that afternoon.
The conviction comes almost two years from the date of the offense, which occurred on March 25, 2018.
On that day, the defendant went to Hunter’s apartment to confront him about money he allegedly owed King. During the confrontation, a fight broke out between the men. After beating Hunter, King covered his head with a bag and strangled him then took a knife and cut his throat three times.
King discarded his bloody jeans and the knife in a nearby Dumpster, but they later were found by investigators. The defendant initially denied his involvement in the crime but later admitted that he was involved, though he claimed it was in self-defense.
The case was investigated by Cody Storie of the Morganton Department of Public Safety with assistance from Agent Ronnie Crawley of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation. Sigmon and Lippert prosecuted the matter for the State with assistance from Legal Assistant David DiMaggio.
CONTACT: Nathan Key