Death penalty case begins for man charged in double murder of two friends

Donovan Jevonte Richardson
Donovan Jevonte Richardson CCBI

In a seventh floor courtroom at the Wake County Justice Center on Wednesday, prosecutors began making their arguments that a Holly Springs man deserves the death penalty for his role in the slaying of two longtime friends.

Donovan Jevonte Richardson, 24, is being tried for the capital murders of Arthur Lee Brown, a popular construction company owner, and David Eugene McKoy, Brown’s best friend and longtime employee.

Wake prosecutors Howard Cummings and Matt Lively say Richardson, 24, along with Gregory Adalverto Crawford of Fuquay-Varina and Kevin Bernard Britt of Holly Springs, fatally shot Brown and McKoy in Brown’s home on Howard Road in Fuquay-Varina. Investigators said the men conspired to rob the victims.

Crawford last year was sentenced to life in prison. Britt has not gone to trial, but has been cooperating with investigators.

Prosecutors think the men targeted the home days before Brown and McKoy were found dead. Brown had tried to ward off would-be robbers by installing three cameras along the exterior of the home and an alarm system inside.

“My uncle told me, ‘somebody’s been messing with my security cameras,’ ” his nephew, Carl Diggs, testified Wednesday as the trial began.

Kenneth L. Brown, Brown’s son,told the courtroom that his boyhood home was ransacked. A basement window where investigators think the men entered had been kicked in. Clothes and other items were strewn across the bedroom floor where Brown had been shot. A wallet where he kept cash was missing. So was a .38-caliber revolver he kept on his nightstand and two long rifles, including a World War II “Tommy Gun” that had been stolen from Brown’s gun cabinet.

“After the murders, everything was in disarray,” Brown said. “Things were turned over. There were holes in the walls, blood on the walls, blood on the mattress. Things were just scattered everywhere. The furniture was overturned. And the wallet he kept his money in, that one never turned up.”

Diggs and Vernon Elliott, who both live on Howard Road, said they entered the home to investigate at the behest of Ruby Bullock, Brown’s octogenarian sister in-law, who first found the slain men.

“She went in for a few minutes and then she called my name,” Elliott said. “ ‘Vernon come here. I think Arthur is dead.’ I went into Arthur’s bedroom, close enough to touch him. He was cold to the touch. I knew he was dead.”

Elliott said he left the home, but then Bullock asked, “What about David?” He returned to find McKoy’s body in a day bed.

“He was wrapped in blankets in a small bedroom. It appeared he was asleep in bed. He had been shot in the head,” Elliott testified.

The residents of Howard Road are close-knit, and most of them are related.

Kenneth Brown said his father had owned his construction company for more than 40 years. He said the elder Brown had been working with crews building roads and bridges since he was 10 years old.

“That’s how he learned construction,” Brown said.

The business had been picking up since the recession ended, the son said.

Cora McKoy Evans, David McKoy’s sister, said her brother had a learning disability and could not read or write. But he had worked for more than 25 years as Brown’s helper. After the stepmother he had been living with died, McKoy was staying with his employer for a few months until he could move into his own apartment. She said she last spoke with her brother two days before he was found dead.

“He told me he had a hard day at work. He was tired,” his sister recalled. “He had eaten and was going to get a good night’s sleep. He had pig’s feet and potatoes. He was in good spirits. He was a happy person. A good person. He loved strangers. He would speak to everybody. I used to ask him, ‘why do you speak to everybody?’ He’d say, ‘It don’t cost nothing to speak.’ 

The capital trial is scheduled to resume Thursday morning.

Thomasi McDonald: 919-829-4533, @thomcdonald

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