HILLSBOROUGH — A man charged with helping to bury Josh Bailey in 2008 testified Monday that he thought defendant Brian Minton was stretching the truth about killing someone until he saw the body.
Minton thought it was funny when he told him about the murder, Chris Manley said.
“He would crack jokes about it or laugh hysterically when he would talk about it,” he said.
According to Minton, 20-year-old Bailey was killed for stealing and being a snitch, Manley said.
Monday’s testimony is part of an agreement that will allow Manley to plead guilty to a lesser charge of felony obstruction of justice, which carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison. He will get credit for 248 days he served in jail prior to his 2009 release.
Manley originally was charged with being an accessory to murder after the fact, which carries up to 10 years in prison.
Minton is charged with first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping and conspiracy to commit murder and kidnapping in Bailey’s July 29, 2008, slaying. If convicted, he will receive life in prison.
The accused gunman, Matt Johnson, and four other men face the same charges. Two – Ryan Lee and Jack Johnson – have pleaded guilty to reduced charges in exchange for their testimony against their co-defendants.
Manley said he met Minton years earlier but only became friends in 2008. At the end of August, he went with Minton, Jacob Maxwell and Jack Johnson to “handle some business” off Big Woods Road in Chatham County, Manley said. When they got there, Maxwell handed out latex gloves, he said.
“I was a little bit weirded out by that point, but I didn’t really question it,” Manley said.
He had heard people talk at Minton’s garage about how some guy was killed but wasn’t sure until he saw the body that had been left in the woods, he said.
The men walked several hundred feet along a trail, where they dug a hole, he said. Minton and Maxwell carried the body. Manley said he and Minton were standing over it when Minton made derogatory remarks about Bailey, and they put their feet on top of Bailey’s skull.
They buried the body and covered the grave with leaves and straw, he said.
Later, the group met at Time-Out restaurant in Chapel Hill and discussed how nobody would find Bailey’s body unless someone talked, Manley said. He also met with Minton and his parents, Greg and Mishele Minton, at El Rodeo when Greg Minton was “very paranoid,” and Brian reassured his parents “it was being dealt with,” he said.
Orange-Chatham District Attorney Jim Woodall asked Manley why he participated, even hiding Minton’s firearms.
Manley said he was being loyal to Minton, because they dealt cocaine together, and to Greg Minton, who was his supplier.
Anna Hosford, who dated Matt Johnson while attending UNC-Chapel Hill, testified Monday that he came to her dorm in mid-August, “very panicked and frantic, and said we had to get to my room as soon as possible.” Johnson said he was assaulted with a lead pipe at a Pittsboro body shop, she said.
Later, she ran into Minton, Maxwell and Jack Johnson and lied when they asked where Matt Johnson was, she said.
“All three of them seemed very intense and angry,” she said. “They all said he was in trouble, and they were looking for him. I think at the time I wanted to protect Matt, and I didn’t know what was going on.”
Hosford said her relationship with Johnson was rocky until it ended in June. He lied and stole money from her, did drugs and traded goods for sex on Craig’s List, she said. They kept some contact, and when Steve Bailey called looking for his son, she asked Johnson about it. He told her he had implicated Bailey as a snitch and thief to save himself, and something bad happened. When she got upset, he changed the story to say they took him out of town, she said.
The trial continues at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.