DA: Pierce's criminal history shows 'implied malice'

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - District Attorney Ben David began presenting evidence on Anthony Pierce's criminal history Friday. Jurors were not in the courtroom for this special hearing.

Officers from the Philadelphia Police Department testified about an armed robbery they responded to January 17, 1994.

According to Lt. Wong with the Philadelphia PD, Pierce was one of two armed men who took hostages and robbed an illegal gambling house in 1994.

One of the men involved shot Lt. Wong in the chest, but he was wearing a bullet proof vest and was able to chase them.  Wong shot and killed one of the men, but Pierce was able to get away.

David says Pierce was charged with more than 50 counts, including aggravated assault resulting from that incident.  Pierce accepted a plea deal in June 1994 that allowed him to serve between 10-20 years in prison.  He was released from jail April 12, 2004.

Prosecutors argue that this testimony should be presented to the jury in order to show Pierce's previous disregard for the lives of law enforcement.

David said Pierce's actions show "implied malice," meaning he knew his decision to flee from police could have deadly consequences.

Defense Attorney Andrew Waters, however, said the case in 1994 was a direct act and the death of Officer Richard Matthews in 2009 was an indirect consequence. Waters contended that the first case is not similar enough to the current case to be included as evidence.

Will Walter, who was a drug dealer in the Kings Grant area of Wilmington in 2009, testified the marijuana shown as evidence earlier in the trial belonged to him in February.  He said he met Pierce and two others in a parking lot off Market Street, and Pierce agreed to pay $30,000 for the drugs.

Walter said he stopped to put gas in his vehicle when he heard sirens.  He decided to follow the cops because one of the men in his car said he thought Pierce had been pulled over.  When Walter caught up with the sirens he saw Pierce and two other men arrested on the ground.

Police searched Walter's home after this incident and was arrested for drug possession.

After a recess for lunch, Waters came back into the courtroom ready to question whether Matthews violated policy, and if he did, said it should be taken into account.  He specifically cited the officer's speed in his attempt to join the police chase.

David argued Waters cannot deny the foresee ability of danger when his defendant was speeding.  He also contented Pierce can't deny the possibility of items being in the road after people in the SUV were throwing packages out the windows.

Court wrapped up for the week around 3:15 Friday afternoon.  Judge Gorham will rule on the admissibility of the evidence presented Friday when court resumes at 9:30 Monday morning.

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