11/09/2006

Through traffic stop, vigilant N.C officer stymied suspects' escape

By Matthew Eisley, Staff Writer
The News & Observer

Besides the three young robbers who attacked Shirley Newkirk as she backed out of her driveway April 28, 2005, no witnesses saw the murder.

The confessed killer, Ezavia Allen, and his two accomplices might have gotten away if not for a young beat cop named Sarah Goree. She pulled them over in a routine traffic stop just minutes after they fled the scene of the predawn shooting outside Newkirk's home off Dacian Road in Southeast Raleigh.

Goree testified Wednesday in Allen's first-degree murder trial. Allen also is charged with attempted murder, attempted robbery and seven robberies. If convicted, he could be put to death.

After the shooting of Newkirk, a retired Raleigh teacher, the three suspects drove several miles northeast, Goree testified. At the intersection of Sunnybrook Road and Holston Lane, driver Cameron Morris slowed for a stop sign but didn't come to a complete halt before continuing.

Goree testified that the intersection was one of her favorite spots to patrol because so many drivers don't stop there.

She pulled in behind the red, two-door 1989 Nissan Sentra and turned on her blue lights. The Sentra turned in to Calumet Apartments. Out jumped Allen, then 18, and Marvin Johnson, 17. They ran.

Morris, 17, stayed in his mother's car, Goree testified Wednesday. She added that she detained him and radioed for help.

About that time, a 911 radio dispatcher alerted police, firefighters and paramedics to the killing.

Officers soon found Johnson hiding behind a nearby garbage bin. Others tracked down Allen in Raleigh later that day.

By day's end, detectives had elicited confessions from Johnson and Allen, who admitted he had killed Newkirk.

After Newkirk was shot through the face, jaw, mouth cavity and neck, she staggered into her home before collapsing in a hallway near her bedroom. She inhaled and swallowed blood before she lost so much of it -- leaving a long, bloody trail from her car to the hall -- that she could no longer live, Dr. John Butts, the state's chief medical examiner, testified Wednesday. He conducted the autopsy.

Inside their bedroom, George Newkirk heard something, but he didn't wake up right away.

"I heard some kind of noise, some noise," the retired assistant school principal testified. "You're asleep, and you can't tell."

He thought his wife of 37 years might have returned from walking with her friend, Maurice Mial. But she never came back to the bedroom, he said, so finally he got up to check on her.

When he found his wife, she lay on her back on the floor, bleeding from her neck, head and mouth. He cradled her.

"I said: 'Shirley, what has happened to you? What is wrong?' " he recalled. "She was not quite gone when I got there. But I could not communicate with her."

He called 911, and a dispatcher told him how to try to resuscitate his wife. "She was saying, 'Push on her chest.' Every time I did that, blood came out more.

"I said, 'I think she's gone.' "

Shirley Newkirk was 63.

George Newkirk's testimony ended the prosecution's evidentiary phase of Allen's trial. Defense attorneys are scheduled today to begin presenting their evidence.

Veteran trial Judge James Spencer urged the jury of 12 plus two alternates -- one ill juror was excused Wednesday -- not to decide Allen's guilt or innocence yet.

"At this point, you have heard the evidence of the state," he said. "You have not yet heard the evidence for the defendant."

Copyright 2006 The News and Observer

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