Defense questions testimony


Caleb Elijah Wardrette


Staff Writer

Thursday, October 12, 2017

NASHVILLE — Caleb Wardrett’s murder trial moves into its third day today after another marathon day of testimony from the state’s witnesses.

Eight more witness took the stand Wednesday, including Rocky Mount police officers, a ballistics expert, an AT&T engineer and a trio of people claiming to have been at the site of Anthony Howard’s death on the day that he was fatally shot. One of that group was a man claiming to know both Howard and Wardrett. 

The man testified that he saw Wardrett shoot Howard on Dec. 24, 2015, but Wardrett’s lawyer, Darian Tucker, questioned the man’s credibility by addressing two differing accounts of the incident that the man gave police at two separate points between December 2015 and February 2016.

When Tucker asked the man why he gave the differing accounts, the man alleged he gave the first account out of fear of retribution. Tucker also asked the man about a deal the man had allegedly made with Rocky Mount police at one point to have his bond adjusted, which allegedly led to the second differing account. 

The man’s testimony was just one statement given by the alleged witnesses. Two others who claimed to have been at the site on the day that Howard was killed gave their own varying accounts of what may or may not have happened on the date.

Once the eyewitnesses finished their testimonies, the state brought in three Rocky Mount police officers — Detective Clay Joyner, who questioned Wardrett following his arrest in March 2016 in connection with Howard’s death, Sgt. John Denton, who helped Cpl. Thomas Meadows investigate the car found on Rick Boone Road as well as the handgun and shells believed to have been connected with Howard’s death, and Cpl. Cameron Joyner — to testify.

Joyner’s testimony followed that of AT&T engineer Paul Zuvich, who explained how AT&T was able to compile cell phone records, as the state addressed cell phone records in the case. Joyner testified that the data provided to the police department from AT&T allowed him to make a map, which traced a cell phone from the site of the fatal Christmas Eve 2015 shooting all the way to Rick Boone Road.

Judge Quentin Sumner stopped testimony for the day before Tucker had a chance to cross-examine Joyner. Since Tucker did not have a chance to question Joyner, today’s session will open today with Tucker having that opportunity.

Testimony continues at 8:30 a.m. today in N.C. Superior Court in Nashville.