Wake prosecutor to show video of fatal beating during jailer's trial

tmcdonald@newsobserver.comDecember 9, 2013 

Markeith Council

— Eight men and four women will decide whether a Wake County Detention Center jailer was responsible for the death of inmate Shon Demetrius McClain last June.

The case is being prosecuted by Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby, who disclosed Monday that he has a copy of a surveillance video of the altercation between McClain and detention officer Markeith Council, who has been charged with voluntary manslaughter.

“I intend to play that video during the course of the trial,” Willoughby said.

Council was indicted Aug. 6 after a State Bureau of Investigation inquiry that began June 4 when McClain was beaten and rushed, unconscious, to WakeMed in Raleigh.

McClain, 40, had been booked into the Wake County jail May 28 on misdemeanor charges.

The altercation between Council and McClain occurred in a day room at the jail. Two witnesses, both inmates, say it started with a verbal exchange between McClain and Council that escalated until Council pushed McClain to the floor.

McClain got up and took a swing at Council. Witnesses say he did not connect, but McClain’s autopsy report from the state medical examiner’s office said McClain punched Council in the face.

Witness accounts and the autopsy report agree that Council then hoisted McClain and slammed him twice on his neck and head. McClain remained on life support at WakeMed until he died June 17.

Council suffered minor injuries, returned to work and has since been suspended indefinitely without pay.

During jury selection Monday, Council’s attorney, Craig James, asked potential jurors whether they or friends and family were employed as law enforcement officers, corrections officers “or even security guards.”

James also asked the jury pool members whether they subscribed to The News & Observer and how often they read it and whether they read the entire paper. He asked, too, if they read the corrections.

“There’s a reason for that,” he later said. “I asked that because people who read the newspaper often look to see if there have been any changes.”

Willoughby focused his questions on trying to ensure that jurors would be fair to a crime victim who was an inmate and determine whether they would listen to inmates and former inmates who witnessed the incident in the same manner they would consider the testimony of any other witness. He also asked if they could be fair despite the fact that the incident took place at the Wake County jail.

One potential juror who said he could not was promptly dismissed.

McDonald: 919-829-4533

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