05/11/17 — Defendant takes plea deal in shooting death of friend

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Defendant takes plea deal in shooting death of friend

By Ethan Smith
Published in News on May 11, 2017 1:10 PM


Rashad Terrell Daniels, 23, will serve 84 to 113 months in prison for his part in the Aug. 8, 2015, murder of 17-year-old Jerome Lavelle Barnes.

Daniels pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter today in Wayne County Superior Court.

He was originally charged with first-degree murder, discharging a weapon into occupied property causing serious injury and possession of a firearm by a felon.

Those charges were dismissed when Daniels entered his guilty plea today.

Assistant District Attorney Davis Weddle gave the court a brief rundown of how events unfolded the day Barnes died. He was shot in the head at Donel's Express Mart at 518 E. Elm St.

Weddle told the court Barnes was with Daniels, Eric Roach and Daron Jackson inside a car, which they drove to Donel's Express Mart.

When they got there, Roach got out to use the restroom behind the store, while Daniels and Jackson got out to go inside the store.

Weddle said Barnes stayed inside the car.

As Daniels and Jackson came out of the store, they saw a man begin shooting at them from the back of an SUV, Weddle said.

Weddle said Jackson turned to get on the ground and take cover and Daniels then returned fire, and Barnes was shot in the head during the crossfire.

Weddle told the court that both 9 mm and .40 caliber shell casings were recovered from the scene.

He said evidence would show Daniels shot the 9 mm handgun and whoever shot at the men was using a .40 caliber gun.

Weddle said the state contends Daniels fired the fatal shot that killed Barnes.

Barnes was driven to the Wayne Memorial Hospital by Roach with Daniels and Jackson in the car, Weddle said, but they got lost several times on the way.

During this journey to the hospital, Weddle told the court that Roach stopped to let Jackson out of the car and Roach and Daniels then drove Barnes to the hospital.

After they took Barnes to the hospital, Daniels fled.

Weddle told the court that statements given by the men in the car after the fact reconstructed the events of that day for authorities.

Barnes was flown to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, where he was pronounced dead.

Daniels' defense attorney, Walter Webster, as well as Daniels himself, told the court Daniels ran from the hospital because he knew he was not supposed to have a gun, much less be shooting at someone, since he was a convicted felon.

Webster said Daniels only had a gun at the time because Goldsboro was experiencing a large number of shootings that year, and anything could happen.

Webster said the defense team contends it is unknown who exactly fired the fatal shot that killed Barnes.

Weddle said the district attorney's office brought the original charges against Daniels because they believed there was enough probable cause to do so.

But as the case progressed, Weddle said he felt Daniels had a good argument for self-defense -- a witness for the state was going to testify that they were shot at first.

So instead of taking the case to trial, the plea deal that came to fruition today was organized instead.

Webster said Barnes agreed to take a plea deal in part to show Barnes' family that he was taking responsibility for his role in the untimely death.

After Daniels was sentenced, he turned to Barnes' family, who were present in the courtroom, and apologized for his part in Barnes' death.

"I do apologize because we shouldn't have been there at that point anyway," Daniels said to Barnes' family. "I tried my best to protect him."

Daniels will receive credit for the time he has already served in prison, which is 632 days.

Superior Court Judge Jay Hockenbury presided over the case.