Published: Aug 07, 2012 06:00 PM
Modified: Aug 07, 2012 07:14 PM
HILLSBOROUGH - Orange County prosecutors won’t seek the death penalty against Mario Dante Ramsey in the December slaying of a 41-year-old man in his Chapel Hill apartment.
The decision was announced Tuesday in Orange County Superior Court. After the brief hearing, defense attorney William Durham, of the Center for Death Penalty Litigation in Durham, said Ramsey’s “family is very relieved.”
Ramsey, 27, of 2607 Lexington St., Apt. A2, Durham, is charged with first-degree murder in the Dec. 11 shooting of Drew Christopher Frasure, 41, of 119-A Ashley Forest Drive. Ramsey also is charged with robbery with a dangerous weapon and possession of a firearm by a felon. He has been held without bail in the Orange County Jail since his Dec. 16 arrest.
If convicted of first-degree murder, he will face life in prison.
According to a Dec. 12 autopsy report, Frasure was fatally shot once in the neck at close range. The N.C. Medical Examiner’s Office in Chapel Hill reported removing a bullet from his spinal cord.
Although a woman who called 911 shortly after midnight Dec. 11 reported seeing three young white men enter the apartment and hearing a gunshot before the men fled, police have not explained the discrepancy between her statements and the arrest of Ramsey, who is black.
Police found Frasure in the apartment, lying unconscious on the floor between the living room and the kitchen. They also found three women at the scene trying to keep him alive.
According to search warrants, a man fitting Ramsey’s description was seen near the apartment just before Frasure was killed.
Investigators arrested Ramsey after following a trail of cell-phone records and witness statements. According to the warrants, a witness who was in the car with Ramsey and an unidentified man when they went to Frasure’s apartment told police “that Mario Ramsey shot the victim.”
Witnesses also told police Ramsey said he was going to take a shower after being dropped off later at a friend’s house in Durham, because “he had blood on him from the shooting,” the warrants state. According to witnesses, Ramsey owned a black handgun and took it everywhere he went, but when police arrested him at his girlfriend’s house on North Duke Street in Durham, they did not find a gun, warrants state.
Ramsey’s previous convictions in Durham and Alamance counties include felony breaking and entering, felony larceny and misdemeanor possession of stolen goods.
His next appearance will be Oct. 30 in Orange County Superior Court.