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Murder defendant takes plea

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By PHILIP SAYBLACK
Staff Writer

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

TARBORO — A homicide case reaching back almost four years took another step toward its end Monday after a local man pleaded guilty to the crime.

Brendan Allen Greene, 26, of Rocky Mount, pleaded guilty on Monday to the May 15, 2013, shooting death of Clayton Jerell Epps, 22, of Rocky Mount, in N.C. Superior Court in Tarboro. Greene and another man — Tique Williams, 26, of Rocky Mount — both were charged with felony first-degree murder and felony possession of a firearm by a felon in the case.

Greene and Williams were not the initial suspects in the case. Police originally arrested two other men in connection to the case in 2013. Those men were cleared and released shortly after being arrested.

Greene’s lawyer, Philip Lane, worked out a plea deal that allowed Greene to plead guilty to a lesser charge of second-degree murder Monday instead of first-degree murder.

Assistant District Attorney Dusty Rapp alleged that the shooting happened as Epps was leaving a store on Cokey Road. Rapp alleged footage showed Greene getting into a verbal altercation with Epps before firing the fatal shots.

Lane said he accepted the deal despite concerns with evidence in the case that he thought could have been used to defend Greene.

“There was a lot of evidence against (Greene) from the state and there was also a lot of evidence that we would have challenged had the case gone to trial,” Lane said. “We did what we had to do and what Brendan wanted to do, so we are satisfied with the plea.”

Lane told Judge Milton F. Fitch Jr. that Greene’s family played a large part in the deal being made.

“Brendan has two daughters,” Lane said. “He wants to walk out of prison one day and see his daughters. Seeing his family is more important than fighting a trial.”

Along with having the murder charge reduced to second-degree murder, Fitch said a felony charge of possession of a firearm would be dismissed as part of the plea deal. He added the punishment for second-degree murder ranges from a minimum of 221 months in prison to a maximum of 278 months. Greene’s sentencing date has not been announced.

Williams was scheduled to appear in the case on Monday — but his date is being re-scheduled. Attempts to reach court officials for comment on Williams’ new date and the reason for the re-scheduling were unsuccessful.

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