The suspect in Catawba County’s “Good Samaritan” killing made his first appearance in court Monday morning, then exited the way he came – jailed without bond.
Marvin Jacob Lee, 27, remains charged with the murder of one of the men who tried to help him during Friday’s winter storm. He has a probable-cause hearing on Feb. 15.
Witnesses said Lee was apparently drunk or drugged when his car slid off Mathis Church Road in the Bandys community late Friday afternoon. Jefferson Heavner and two other men in Heavner’s passing truck stopped to help. Neighbors also gathered; one tried to take Lee’s keys.
Lee, according to Sheriff Coy Reid, reacted belligerently. When the three would-be helpers called police, Lee pulled a handgun and started firing. One bullet hit Heavner, a 26-year-old single father of a 17-month-old son who was known around Newton as a man always willing to help others – particularly in winter weather.
When Heavner fell to the ground, Lee walked over, stood over the injured man and fired numerous shots, Reid said.
“It sounded like four or five shots: boom, boom, boom, boom,” said Annette Medlin, who lived nearby. “It’s really close to home. … Kind of unreal.”
Heavner died a few miles from where he grew up.
Lee was passed out in his car when responding SWAT team members pulled him from it, investigators say.
You can’t trust nobody.
Billy Jarrett, a friend of the victim in the courtroom for Lee’s arraignment
Monday morning in Heavner’s hometown, Lee was arraigned before District Judge Robert Mullinax. He appeared briefly in a filled courtroom that included Heavner’s family members and friends. Mullinax appointed Victoria Jayne of Hickory as Lee’s attorney.
Jayne told the Associated Press that she met Lee on Monday. “He is very, very sad,” she said. “Seems very depressed. … Just seems very confused about everything that happened. He doesn’t recall a lot.”
Billy Jarrett, who described himself as a friend of the dead man, said after the hearing that the sight of Lee in court made him “want to get up and jump on him.” He said the fact that Heavner was reportedly shot by the man he was trying to help gnaws at him.
“You can’t trust nobody,” he said.
Reid told the Observer on Monday that the investigation continues, including how the gun used in the shooting was obtained.
According to state records, Lee purchased a permit to carry a concealed weapon in May 2012. It expires next year. Records indicate that the Claremont resident’s criminal history up to now consisted only of some driving offenses.
The district attorney’s office had not decided at midday Monday whether to file additional charges in connection with the shots Lee allegedly fired at Heavner’s companions.
The shooting continues to draw attention from around the country, pushing donations to an online gofundme.com memorial for Heavner to almost $21,000 by Monday afternoon.
The Associated Press and data editor Gavin Off contributed.