RALEIGH — As debate grows across the nation about the fate of capital punishment and the use of lethal injections to kill prisoners, Wake County prosecutors began selecting jurors on Monday for a death-penalty case.
Armond Devega, 32, sat at a table with two defense lawyers, occasionally looking out into a courtroom filled with the men and women called as potential jurors.
Devega, who turned down a plea offering from prosecutors a year ago, is accused of two counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted murder and nine counts of robbery.
He is accused of murdering Anthony Dwayne Scarborough and Stephanie Powell Anderson in 2008.
Scarborough was killed during a home invasion in Raleigh in February of that year. Investigators contend the defendant and victim knew each other while imprisoned at the Johnston Correctional Center and that a grudge had developed.
Powell, 39, a clerk at a Wilco-Hess gas station in North Raleigh, was shot to death in the early-morning hours of April 10, 2008. Investigators contend Devega was there waiting for her when she arrived to open the store and shot her after she could not open the store safe for him.
Selecting a jury for such cases can take longer than for non-capital murder cases.
The attorneys estimated that jury selection could take three weeks, pushing opening statements to March 17.
The attorneys said the testimony phase of the trial could last eight weeks.
Court documents filed in 2008 offer a glimpse of some of the evidence that could be presented.
Bullets fired in the Scarborough and Anderson shootings and robberies at a Subway and a check-cashing business all match the same weapon, according to search warrants.
Investigators learned about the alleged grudge that Devega developed against Scarborough, the defendants Johnston County cellmate for two months in 2005.
A tipster also said Devega had a speech impediment that was captured on surveillance tape from the store where Anderson was shot.
Police have seized shoes, trench coats, financial records, duct tape and a .38-caliber revolver from the home at 6037 Big Sandy Drive, where Devega lived in Raleigh between prison stints.
Blythe: 919-836-4948; Twitter: @AnneBlythe1