Man held in federal prison is charged with murder in 2015 slaying in Smithfield

Dontrell Khali McDonald
Dontrell Khali McDonald

A 24-year-old man on Wednesday became the second person charged with murder in the shooting death of a Princeton man whose body was found behind a Second Avenue house in September 2015.

Dontrell Khali McDonald, who was convicted last year on a federal charge of gun possession by a felon, was serving a 30-month prison sentence and was brought to Smithfield after detectives swore out a warrant with the murder charge. He was held without bail in the Johnston County Jail.

Police said McDonald, who is listed in jail records as having the nicknames Don Don, Gangsta and Trell, killed Adolphus Ramon Bryant on Sept. 21, 2015.

Chief Keith Powell said it had taken until now for detectives to assemble enough evidence to charge McDonald.

About a month after Bryant was killed, police charged Tina Louise Byrd, 37, with murder and possession of a gun by a felon, although the Johnston County District Attorney’s Office later reduced the charge to attempted murder, police said.

Byrd died last month while she was free on bail, police said.

Police said when they arrested Byrd that they expected more arrests.

The federal charge against McDonald stemmed from an Oct. 31, 2015, incident in which Smithfield police were told a man was waving two guns while walking on the streets, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Eastern North Carolina said when he was sentenced on Aug. 10.

Police had chased McDonald through a housing complex and into a crowded flea market on that Saturday, officials said. A bystander tripped McDonald, and he fell, they said.

Officials said a .380-caliber handgun fell out of his waistband when he fell, and police found a second .380 when they took him into custody.

McDonald had been released from state prison in August 2014 after serving 22 months for illegal gun possession in 2012.

Ron Gallagher: 919-829-4572, @RPGKT