Man charged second time in 2009 Raleigh slaying

James Harold Courtney
James Harold Courtney

More than four years after a jury could not decide whether James Howard Courtney III was guilty of shooting a man in an apartment complex parking lot, police have again charged him with the crime.

Wake County Superior Court Judge R. Allen Baddour declared a mistrial in the case against Courtney in December 2010. He had been charged with shooting James Carol DeBerry, 32, in the parking lot of his apartment complex at Shadetree Lane on Halloween night in 2009.

In April 2011, Wake prosecutors decided not to retry the case, and in the ensuing years Courtney, the 49-year-old married father of two children, twice petitioned the courts to expunge any record of the charges.

Authorities charged Courtney with Deberry’s shooting death again Tuesday after uncovering additional evidence last year that reinvigorated their investigation and pointed to his “culpability” in the case, said Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman.

“It’s not at all unusual for a police investigation to continue after a case ends with a hung jury,” Freeman said Wednesday afternoon. “Law enforcement continued their investigation, and additional information that became available makes it appropriate for us to refile the charges.”

Courtney was the second of two men charged with murder on Nov. 2, 2009, days after DeBerry’s body was found. Charges were dismissed against the second man, David Eric Moses, 51, of Raleigh, about a week after he testified against Courtney in December 2010.

Freeman said her office would not file new charges against Moses, but she expects to obtain arrest warrants for a second “person of interest” because investigators think that more than one person was involved in DeBerry’s death.

Freeman would not name the second person she expects her office to charge. But last year, detectives said in a search warrant application that a fingerprint they found on DeBerry’s beige Honda Accord had been matched to that of a man with an arrest record in Durham.

Police took a DNA sample from that man, Ivan McFarland, and obtained a second search warrant that let them go through data on cellphones Courtney and Moses owned at the time of the killing.

McFarland told police he knew Courtney but had no involvement in the homicide, police told a magistrate last year.

DeBerry was found by his live-in girlfriend in the parking lot where he lay mortally wounded, Courtney’s attorney Charles Caldwell, citing police, said in motions filed at the Wake County Clerk of Court’s Office.

The woman told police that DeBerry was conscious and made a dying declaration that “Jar” and Jar’s “Durham friend” did it, Caldwell wrote.

According to Caldwell, “Jar” is the nickname of Moses, who lived in an apartment just above the one where DeBerry lived with his girlfriend.

Witnesses told police they saw Courtney, Moses and a black man with dreadlocks before and after the shooting. The witnesses said they saw the man with dreadlocks “running to and from the shooting” and that person was “apparently ... the shooter,” Caldwell wrote.

The witnesses also told investigators that a white pickup truck that matched a 2004 Chevrolet owned by Courtney’s wife was in the parking lot when DeBerry was shot.

Courtney’s requests to expunge the murder charge from his record were denied on Sept. 5, 2013, and Aug. 15, 2014, because of a prior felony conviction, court records show.

McDonald: 919-829-4533