Published: May 06, 2012 11:06 AM
Modified: May 07, 2012 06:49 PM
HILLSBOROUGH - Closing arguments in the murder case against Brian Minton, the alleged ringleader in the killing of Josh Bailey four years ago, will be heard Monday.
Minton is charged with first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping and conspiracy to commit murder and kidnapping in the July 29, 2008, murder of 20-year-old Bailey.
Defense attorney James Glover said there’s no doubt Minton drove Bailey to the murder site against his will, but he did not shoot Bailey or go with the intent to kill him. Minton does not deserve to be convicted of first-degree murder, felony murder or first-degree kidnapping, Glover said. He also doesn’t deserve a conspiracy conviction, because there was no conspiracy.
Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson denied Glover’s requests and sent jurors home around noon Friday, telling them the trial is almost over.
“I don’t think we could get the case fairly tried today,” Hudson said.
He also warned jurors that court might run a little late Monday – closing arguments could take several hours – but they shouldn’t feel pressured to reach a quick verdict.
“You’ve been with us for over a month; I don’t have to tell you about the importance of the trial,” he said.
Prosecutors have presented many pieces of evidence and more than two dozen witnesses since April 12 to support their contention that Minton provided weapons and threatened to kill Matt Johnson if he didn’t shoot Bailey.
State Bureau of Investigation and LabCorp forensic experts testified about finding DNA consistent with Minton’s DNA on two gloves found in a bag buried in Bailey’s Chatham County grave. They also found Minton’s DNA on a stained tissue in his parents’ garage.
Zip ties from Bailey’s wrists and gloves from his grave also matched items found in Minton’s car and his Carrboro home, they testified.Two have pleaded
Two of the six men charged in Bailey’s murder pleaded guilty to lesser charges and testified against Minton. The others are still in jail.
Jack Johnson testified that Minton decided they should question Bailey and Matt Johnson about snitching to police about some of the group’s illegal activities and stealing money and other items from them. Minton also decided the men should fight to prove their loyalty, and when Bailey lost the fight, Minton told the others to bind him before driving the group to a wooded area northwest of Carrboro, Jack Johnson said.
He and Ryan Lee both testified that Minton ordered Matt Johnson to shoot Bailey in the head and the torso with the 9mm handgun.
They also testified about helping Minton move Bailey’s body to a new grave in late August.
Glover contends both witnesses are unreliable. Jack Johnson changed his story multiple times, including his initial claim that Matt Johnson used his own gun to shoot Bailey, he said. Both men also stand to serve less time by testifying against Minton, he said.
Glover also called the state’s DNA evidence into question, asking whether it could have been contaminated or if DNA from other people was examined.
Closing arguments will begin at 9:30 a.m. Monday