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Four charged in wake of deputy's death

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BY LINDELL JOHN KAY
Staff Writer

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

TARBORO —- An alleged drunken driver, his girlfriend, a bartender who supposedly overserved him and a bar owner have been arrested in the aftermath of the death of an Edgecombe County deputy who wrecked his vehicle while in pursuit of the driver last week.

State authorities said Richard Howard Walters, 33, of Pinetops, was drinking from noon to 6 p.m. that day. His Altima crashed two-tenths of a mile from the site where Deputy David L. Manning wrecked.

Manning lost control of his cruiser and crashed head-on into on-coming traffic when he turned around to stop Walters about three miles south of Tarboro on N.C. 111, according to the N.C. Highway Patrol.

Walters is accused of running away after the crash. Later, Walters and Kristen Harrell, his girlfriend, were found in possession of drugs when investigators went to his home to interview him.

Troopers asked special agents with N.C. Alcohol Law Enforcement to find out where Walters had been drinking. Agents ended up at Melanie's Place, a liquor-permitted business in Tarboro, said Eric Swain, ALE special agent-in-charge in Greenville.

"We obtained evidence that Walters purchased and consumed the equivalent of 16 malt beverages before driving away from Melanie's Place," Swain said. "Even though Walters was in an intoxicated state, he was served malt beverages until the bar closed."

Bar owner Melanie Whitfield Johnson continued to serve an intoxicated Walters and Cindy Mendenhall, a bar employee, helped Walters jump-start his vehicle's dead battery, according to warrants.

Mendenhall and Johnson also are accused of trying to mislead investigators about Walters' level of intoxication.

Walters was charged with driving while impaired, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Mendenhall, 34, of Tarboro, was charged with common law obstruction of justice and sale to intoxicated person aiding and abetting a DWI.

Johnson, 47, of Tarboro, was charged with common law obstruction of justice and allowing a violation to occur.

Harrell, 35, of Pinetops, was charged with possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

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