HILLSBOROUGH - Brian Minton hung his head, but it was his lawyer who apologized Tuesday after his client was convicted of first-degree murder in the killing of Josh Bailey four years ago.
“From me and from Brian, I am sorry about Josh,” defense attorney James Glover said. “It is a shame.”
Glover argued during the trial that Minton only wanted to scare, not kill, Bailey when he drove his bound 20-year-old victim and others to some woods northwest of Carrboro July 29, 2008.
Glover said he has probably spent more time with Minton than anyone since his arrest and reminded the court that witness Chelsea Lipson said he had “showed great remorse.” Minton also has been working with a psychiatrist to address his own mental health issues, Glover said.
He turned to Bailey’s family: That is not a defense, he said.
Minton will now ask for a public defender and appeal his conviction, Glover said.
A jury found Minton, 21, guilty Tuesday of first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping and first-degree conspiracy to commit murder and kidnapping. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole – the only possible punishment under state law. He also received 116 to 149 months for the kidnapping conviction, and 220 to 273 months for conspiracy.
Orange-Chatham District Attorney Jim Woodall said the state still has to prosecute Minton’s co-defendants. Two pleaded guilty in 2010 to reduced charges in return for testifying, while three men face murder and kidnapping charges. Carrboro resident Chris Manley is charged with being an accessory to murder after the fact but could get a plea deal for his testimony.
Woodall praised assistant district attorney Byron Beasley for doing the “lion’s share of the work” and “most difficult parts of this trial.” Beasley started working on the case in October, he said.Nightmares
On hearing Tuesday’s verdicts, Bailey’s family and friends gasped and a young woman cried.
Steve Bailey said he has had nightmares imagining the torture his adopted son suffered. While he and his wife pass the place where he was killed near their home every day, they are trying to give his brothers a normal life, he said.
Steve Bailey said he and wife Julie knew Bailey suffered from ADHD when they adopted him and his two half-brothers in 1996. Over the years, Bailey dealt with other mental health issues, including bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, he said. The system failed him time and again, but after 13 years of treatment, he had become more independent and was trying to get into a treatment program before he disappeared, Steve Bailey said.
“I am glad, in this last opportunity, the system didn’t fail Josh. These horrible crimes are being punished in the most severe possible way, and that is just,” he said.
Julie Bailey told the court about her son’s passions for sports and the outdoors, his church and volunteering, and his love for his family.
“He had the potential to make a difference in our community,” she said.
Last year, she found a note Bailey had left for her, she said. He told her to “have the best day ever,” she said, and signed it from, “your No. 1 son, Josh.”
“Josh was a great hugger. I miss his smile. I miss him,” she said.
She thanked investigators with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and State Bureau of Investigation, many of whom were in the room for the verdict, for their “superior work.”
“What the defendant did and allowed to be done to Josh was a monstrous act,” she said.
She also addressed Minton’s parents, Mishele and Greg Minton, who sat stone-faced a few feet from Bailey’s family.
“The reality that the defendant’s parents were involved and advised him what to do so no one would ever find (Bailey) … is a reality I will never come to terms with for the rest of my life,” she said.
Both parents are charged with being an accessory to murder after the fact.
“Their actions demonstrate they place no value on Josh’s life … and they have no concern for his grieving family,” Julie Bailey said.Felony murder
During the month-long trial, prosecutors said Minton supplied the gun and ordered another man, Matt Johnson, to kill Bailey, whom the others suspected of stealing or snitching to police about the group’s illegal activities. They also suspected Johnson, witnesses said.
Woodall successfully argued Minton is guilty of first-degree murder under the felony murder rule. Felony murder doesn’t require someone to have the intent to kill or to commit a murder, Woodall said. If you participate in a violent crime committed with a weapon, and someone gets killed, everyone involved is guilty of murder, he said.
“One action leads to another, and eventually, someone gets killed or hurt. The law doesn’t allow you to say, oops, I didn’t mean for that to happen,” he said.
When he had Johnson use a deadly weapon against Bailey, that was malice, Woodall said. When the gun was pointed at Bailey, that was premeditated, and it was deliberate when Johnson pulled the trigger, he said.
Based on the case, Minton’s previous felony convictions for possession with intent to sell and deliver cocaine and possession of a weapon of mass destruction, and because of his supervised probation at the time, Minton should get the strictest possible sentence, he said.
“Frankly, we never know how the laws are going to change, and I believe Brian Minton is extremely dangerous,” Woodall said.
Judge Orlando Hudson addressed Minton’s attorney before ruling.
“Mr. Glover, you told us at one of the breaks you’ve been practicing law for 40 years. I’ve been a judge for 27 years, and this is as cold-blooded a killing as I have seen in 27 years,” Hudson said.