The mother of a Jordan High School student found dead over the weekend says she was surprised that police charged her daughter’s ex-boyfriend with her murder.
Koteya Hall said she thinks her daughter, Tierra Hall, broke up with Kelton Breshon Fox over Christmas break and says she has seen no evidence on her daughter’s cellphone that the two classmates at Jordan had been talking to each other.
Police charged Fox with first-degree murder Tuesday, three days after Tierra Hall’s body was found behind a vacant house. Fox is 17, as was Tierra Hall.
Koteya Hall said Fox was always unfailingly polite around her.
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“He was very mannerable,” she said Wednesday. “It was ‘Yes, ma’am,’ and ‘No ma’am’ and shaking my hand. But then again you can’t go by the outside appearance.”
Fox made his first court appearance Wednesday before Durham County District Court Judge William A. Marsh III, who said Fox could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder.
Marsh initially told Fox that he could face the death penalty if convicted of murder. But as bailiffs led him from the courtroom in handcuffs, Durham County public defender Lawrence Campbell quietly reminded Marsh that Fox is a teenager and ineligible for the death penalty.
“Mr. Campbell has just reminded me that the defendant is under 18,” Marsh told the court. “So death is off the table.”
At the onset of the hearing, Marsh cautioned Fox about speaking about the charges, because he had seen instances in which defendants speak about their cases during their initial hearings and it becomes “something that backfires on them.”
“You have the right to remain silent,” Marsh pointedly told the teen, who has no prior criminal record.
Hall’s body was found behind an empty house on Trotter Ridge Road on Saturday afternoon about three miles from her home on Garrett Road. Police say she had been stabbed to death, but they have not said where they think she was killed nor have they disclosed a possible motive for the killing.
Koteya Hall said Wednesday afternoon that she could not remember how long her daughter had been seeing Fox before they broke up.
“They would be making up and breaking up all the time,” she said.
When they broke up for good, Hall remembers asking her daughter why.
“She said he was ‘too clingy,’ ” Hall said. “She didn’t go into any details at all. I just left it alone after that. I wasn’t aware of any problems.”
Koteya Hall said she was in an abusive relationship herself at one time and that she thinks she would have seen signs of trouble with her daughter. Tierra Hall seemed OK, she said.
Tierra Hall wanted to attend N.C. Central University, her mother said. She wanted to major in business and dreamed of owning her own business someday.
“She wanted to live comfortable,” her mother said. “Coming from a single-parent home, she knew about struggle. She didn’t want to be left out.”
Tierra Hall’s family and the Durham chapter of Parents of Murdered Children will hold a prayer vigil to honor her life on Saturday at Vintage Church at 4310 Garrett Road in Durham. Rev. Rob Womack of Watts Street Baptist Church and the Religious Coalition’s Circles of Hope and Healing will lead the vigil, which will begin at 5 p.m.
Before his court appearance Wednesday, Fox filed an affidavit showing that he is indigent and wanted a court-appointed attorney. Marsh accepted the affidavit and told Fox there would likely be two attorneys assigned as his counsel.
Fox remains in the Durham County jail without the option of posting bail. His next court appearance is April 23.