Family and friends of Arthur Lee Brown and David Eugene McKoy had speculated that whoever shot and killed the two men in Brown’s home outside Fuquay-Varina last month somehow knew them.
But since the arrests over the weekend of three men accused of the crime, the families of Brown and McKoy have struggled to make a connection.
“No one seemed to recognize them,” said David McKoy’s nephew, Cumberland County pastor James McKoy.
Wake County sheriff’s investigators say robbery was the motive behind the double homicide. The three men, Gregory Aldaverto Crawford, 21, of Smithridge Way in Fuquay-Varina, Kevin Bernard Britt, 20, of Main Street in Holly Springs and Donavan Richardson, 21, of West Holly Springs Road in Holly Springs have each been charged with murder, robbery, burglary and related charges.
Investigators say the three men took a .38-caliber revolver, a shotgun and a Thompson machine gun, with a total value of about $850, along with about $150 in cash.
Wake County District Court Judge Keith Gregory told the three men Monday that they now face the death penalty or life in prison without parole if convicted of the charges. Gregory appointed the state Capital Defenders Office to represent them.
Family members of the three men looked on during the hearing. An older woman sobbed and was comforted by those around her as a bailiff led Britt out of the courtroom.
The sheriff’s office has not said why they think the three men targeted Brown, 78, and McKoy, 66. Brown was a cement contractor and well-known in the Fuquay-Varina community; McKoy had worked with Brown for more than 35 years and had recently moved in with him after his mother died.
Guns kept on display
About a month before the fatal shootings, Brown hosted a party that was attended by well over 100 people, and some family and friends have speculated that the robbery might somehow have been conceived then.
Chelsea Elliot, the 20-year-old niece and neighbor of Brown, said her uncle had a collection of firearms – mostly shotguns – that he kept in a display case in his home at 236 Howard Road.
“He kept the guns in a case near his bedroom in the hallway,” Elliot said last week.
Sheriff’s deputies think the slayings occurred late July 17, or early July 18, one day before Crawford’s 21st birthday, court records show.
Family members called 911 about 1:30 p.m. on July 19 after finding Brown’s body stretched across his bed, dead of at least one gunshot wound, deputies reported. One of Brown’s family members found McKoy’s body in a smaller room, blankets pulled up to his chest, also dead from a gunshot wound.
James McKoy described the arrests as “bittersweet.”
“To see young men like that and the damage they have caused two families and the community where they live,” he said. “And I am sure their own families are overwhelmed by this. It gives us closure. But I feel bad for their families.”
Little in the trio’s previous criminal histories indicated a propensity toward violent crime, though all have previous convictions for larceny and related offenses.
On June 10, Crawford was charged in Wake County with obtaining property by false pretenses and misdemeanor possession of stolen goods.
Britt was released from prison on May 11, 2013, after serving one year and three months for felony aiding and abetting. The conditions of his release included finding a job and staying away from drugs or alcohol. State court records show Britt has previous convictions for common law robbery, larceny, felony breaking and entering into a motor vehicle and assaulting a government official.
He was wanted by police after failing to appear in court on July 23 for misdemeanor drug possession and possession of drug paraphernalia, state records show.
Richardson was convicted on Jan. 23 of assault on a female. He was sentenced to two years probation and ordered to enroll in an abuser treatment program. He was allowed to contact the victim, the mother of his child, to make arrangements to see the child, state records show.