DA implores public to ‘trust the process’ during death penalty decision in trooper slaying

DA implores public to ‘trust the process’ during death penalty decision in trooper slaying

COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WECT) - District Attorney Jon David is urging the public to “trust the process” as his office determines whether the state will seek the death penalty for Raheem Davis after he allegedly shot and killed Trooper Kevin Conner during a traffic stop early Wednesday morning.

In a Friday afternoon news release, David said this case has his office’s “full attention," demands their “best effort” and cautioned the public that the legal system moves at a deliberate pace.

“While many people are clamoring for immediate answers and swift justice, our system is designed to provide for a slow and deliberate process to ensure fairness,” David explained. “Ultimately, our decision to seek the death penalty must rest on firm footing, both legally and factually, and speak throughout time.

“During this highly emotional period, I am calling for calm and asking for people to trust the process."

David said under North Carolina law, district attorneys have the sole discretion to seek the death penalty in first-degree murder cases and can only do so if one or more aggravating factors exist.

Raheem Davis is charged with first-degree murder. (Source: Columbus Co. Sheriff's Office)
Raheem Davis is charged with first-degree murder. (Source: Columbus Co. Sheriff's Office) (Columbus Co. Sheriff's Office)

“In making this determination, I will meet with several senior assistant district attorneys on my staff to scrupulously review the evidence and decide whether we believe sufficient evidence exists to warrant a death penalty designation,” David said. “If we believe the death penalty is appropriate, we will petition the court, which will make the final determination.”

David said the death penalty determination will wait until Conner’s slaying has been extensively investigated and all the material facts are fully developed.

“Moreover, I believe it is vitally important to speak with the family of Trooper Conner prior to making any decision and let them have a voice in the process,” said David. “My office has already been in contact with the family and agreed that we should not meet until after the funeral.”

Davis, 20, of Chadbourn, is accused of fatally shooting Conner during a traffic stop on U.S. 701 near Whiteville just after midnight Wednesday.

Davis is charged with first-degree murder and is being held without bond at the Columbus County Jail.

His next court appearance is Nov. 6.

Trooper Conner’s funeral services are scheduled for Sunday with visitation at South Columbus High School from 1-4 p.m. The funeral is scheduled after visitation.

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