Family of dead man says DA went too easy on shooter of Durham father of 4

A Durham man could spend about 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to killing a 31-year-old man during a drug deal in a south Durham shopping center.

The dead man’s family said they don’t think justice was served after a judge sentenced Tyrone Stanback Jr. on Monday to from 17.5 to 22 years in prison, minus time served in the local jail.

Stanback, who was initially charged with first-degree murder in the death of Darelle Harper, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder as part of a plea deal. The maximum sentence for the B1 felony is life in prison without the possibility of parole.

“I felt like he should have gotten 25 to life,” Harper’s mother, Shirley Chambers, said in an interview. “If you take a life, your life should be taken too.”

The District Attorney’s Office didn’t respond to questions Monday about the plea deal and Harper’s family’s concerns.

Stanback was charged with Durham’s first homicide in 2018, which unfolded around noon Jan. 30 in a busy parking lot in the Triangle Village Shopping Center off N.C. 55.

Harper died from two gunshot wounds about 12 minutes later, Assistant District Attorney Alyson Grine said.

In a jailhouse interview, Stanback said he killed Harper but it wasn’t intentional, according to WRAL.

Darelle Harper Courtesy of the Harper family

Stanback said he and his girlfriend met Harper in the parking lot to buy marijuana, the station reported.

Stanback said he feared for his life after Harper asked them if they were working for the police and Harper’s girlfriend told Harper to shoot him.

“I just pray that he don’t got no kids,” Stanback said in the interview. “And if he do, to his kids, I’m sorry.”

About a dozen family members sat in the courtroom Monday. They said Harper had four children, ages 5 to 15.

“They keep asking me, ‘When my Daddy coming back?’” said Chambers, 65. “I don’t know what to tell them.”

Darelle Harper was a jokester, said his sister Sherika Harper, 43, and the glue that kept his family together.

Her brother didn’t live a stellar life, she said, but he still deserved justice.

The gunshots spilled from a gray four-door car parked in front of Colonial Tire and Automotive center, witnesses told The Herald-Sun after the shooting.

Grine said Harper and his girlfriend were in the front seat of a parked car at the shopping center. Stanback and his girlfriend Danon Hirsch, who is now his co-defendant, drove up. Stanback got in the back seat of Harper’s car.

Stanback became agitated, took a gun from his waistband and fired it through the seat, hitting Harper in the right hip. Harper opened the door and ran, and Stanback fired again, hitting Harper in the neck, Grine said.

Tyrone StanbackJr
Tyrone Stanback Jr. Durham Police Department

Stanback jumped in the car driven by Hirsch, who is charged with felony accessory after the fact of murder. She is scheduled to appear in court next week.

The couple was arrested as they tried to check into a motel a few days later, Grine said.

Under a plea agreement, Superior Court Judge David T. Lambeth sentenced Stanback to 210 months to 264 months.

Before the plea, Stanback’s family members told the judge that they don’t support the plea.

“I don’t think Mr. Stanback is showing any kind of remorse,” said Harper’s brother, Daryl Harper.

Lambeth, a visiting judge from Alamance County, said he knew little about the case and had to rely on the District Attorney’s Office and defense attorney, who consider different factors when decided whether to take a case to trial.

Stanback’s attorney, Sean Ramkaransingh, said his client has a 2-year-old, “has always been remorseful” and he thinks some of the issues stemmed from drug addiction. Lambeth asked Stanback what drug he was addicted to, and Stanback said many different drugs.

Sherika Harper said while her family will never have the chance to celebrate special moments with her brother, under the terms of the plea, Stanback will.

“At every happy occasion that you have, I hope at night time you dream of my brother’s face,” she said.

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Virginia Bridges covers criminal justice in Orange and Durham counties for The Herald-Sun and The News & Observer. She has worked for newspapers for more than 15 years. In 2017, the N.C. Press Association awarded her first place for beat feature reporting. The N.C. State Bar Association awarded her the 2018 Media & Law Award for Best Series.