The Brunswick beacon. (Shallotte, N.C.) 19??-current, December 01, 1994, Image 1
STA? moro BY EMC CARLSON ATTORNEY William Fairley (left) and his client Daniel Cummings listen to the responses of potential jurors in his first-degree murder trial Monday . Prospective Jurors Quizzed On Death Penalty BY ERIC CARLSON The painstaking process of finding 14 people willing to impose the death penalty began Monday in the trial of a Robeson County man ac cused of fatally shooting 74-year-old Bums Babson during an attempted robbery of his cor ner store in Ash last April. As of Tuesday evening, three jurors had been selected to decide whether Daniel Cummings Jr., 39. of Red Springs is guilty of first-degree mur der. robbery with a dangerous weapon and as sault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill in flicting serious injury. Attorneys say it could take more than a week to scat the jury and two alternates who will hear the evidence against Cummings, because each candidate must be closely questioned regarding his or her feelings about capital punishment. If the jurors unanimously agree that Cummings murdered Babson, they will be asked a second, more difficult question. Docs the evi dence suggest he should be executed for his crime? Or should he serve a term of life impris onment? Although defendants have been convicted of capital offenses here, no one has received the death penalty from a Brunswick County jury for more than 50 years. District Attorney Rex Gore said Monday. Cummings has allegedly given statements to police in which he admitted entering Babson's Bamboo Corner Ash Beverage store on Whiteville Road April 22 while "scoping" places to rob. He said he "told the old man, "Give me your money," according to one statement. Babson moved toward the cash register and "came back with a gun and shot at me," Cummings allegedly told Brunswick County Sheriff's Detective Tom Hunter. "We struggled over the gun. I believe I heard or counted four shots that went off inside the store. I took the old man's wallet. I got the mon ey out of the cash register and left the old man lying face down in the chair," Cummings al legedly said in his statement Cummings also admitted being confronted by Babson's wife as he left the store and said he fired the pistol "Until the weapon was empty." She later entered the store and found Babson dead with bullet wounds to the face, the back and the arm. Defense attorneys Michael Ramos and William Fairley tried unsuccessfully to keep Cummings' statements from being used in the trial, claiming their client "was suffering from withdrawal from approximately one week's con stant use of cocaine" and that his mentai state during questioning made him unable to under stand his Constitutional rights. Superior Court Judge Jack Thompson has ruled that the jury should be allowed to consider the statements. Cummings also allegedly admitted to police that he broke into a home in Red Springs and stole an elderly woman's purse three days before Babson's murder. Red Springs Police have charged Cummings (See CAPITAL, Page 2-A) Th WICK# BEACON Thirty-Third Year, Number 5 ?ivn fM mutmmcM hacom Shallotto, North Carolina, Thursday, December 1, 1994 50 ? Per Copy 40 Pages, 4 Sections, Plus Inserts n 1 i ;i IXUUIK LlUIUiy May Reopen This Month BY ERIC CARLSON West Brunswick readers can hope for a special Christmas present this year as the newly remodeled and ex panded Rourk Library branch is ex pected to reopen on Mam Street in Shallotte around the last week of December "I hesitate to say exactly when it will re-open, what with holiday dis ruptions," said Marie Harrison, a member of the Brunswick County Library Board of Trustees. "But we hope to see it open before the first of the year. "Everyone will be tickled to death when they see it," she said "It will be a wonderful Christmas present." Harrison toured the new building with library board Chairman Anne I fines, architect John Sawyer amt countv engineer Robert Tucket dur ing a "jHinch list" inspection luesday afternoon. Contractors were given then final instructions for co rv acting the rcrr?t>dcling job bet-He turning the building over to the county for use. Saying there is "nothing major" remaining to be done on the S2#y,649 job, Harrison estimated that the architect will be ready to re lease the building in about two weeks. It will take at least a week to re-stock the library's book collection before re-opening, she said. The Friends of West Brunswick Library has kept a temporary branch library open to the public since April. The organization is expected to help county personnel move into the new building. But some of the books are in storage and others will have to be transferred from other li braries, llaiTison said "I expect a lot of them will have family obligations, so it would be speculation at best to say how long it will take," she said. "They've done a masterful job of keeping a li brary open. They arc to lie com mended for their efforts. We art very fortunate to have them " The final work to be done at the newly remodeled library includes touch-up painting, some electrical work and the installation of tele phones and other electronic equip ment, Harrison said. The carpeting has been put down and most of the book shelves are in place. Formerly the West Brunswick Library, the building has been re named the Rourk Branch of the Brunswick County Library system in honor of Harrison's parents, who donated the land on which the origi nal building was built. The remodeling project includes an additional wing of 1,^04 square feet and a renovation of 2,232 square feet. Inside... Birthdays ... ? 2B Business News . ? ? S-9C Calendar. Church News. Classified Club News... Crime Report . Court Docket. Golf. Obituaries - IOC Opinion ?4-SA People In The News Plant Doctor ? Snorts 1-5D iTAff PHOTO rt IYNN OJLSOH Up And Over A house, moved from III J Ocean Houlevard West, Holden Heach, lumber* over the Intracoastal Waterway, simultaneously pulled by a Million House Movers truck and pushed by a front-end loader. The moving took place the day before Thanksgiving. Trucker Tried To Report Accident; No Charges Filed BY ERIC CARLSON "I think I hit a lady," said the frightened voice recorded at the Brunswick County Eimergency Communications Center last week "You hit a deer." came the confi dent reply from a 91 1 dispatcher The caller was right. TTie operator was wrong. But investigations by police and local emergency response officials suggest the mistake probably made no difference in the fate of a Wilmington woman who apparently walked onto the northbound lane of L' S 17 near Lcland and was struck by a Uactor-lrailcr truck shortly be fore dawn last Monday (Nov. 2i). It wasn't until first light that the body parts strewn for more than a half mile along the highway were identified as those of a human Authorities believe the victim, 54 year-old Ellen Smith Marsh, was hit at about to a m and run over by nu merous other vehicles before police stopped traffic through the area about an hour later. Several rescue workers and law enforcement officers who frequently respond to violent crimes and auto accidents said it was the most grue some scene they have ever encoun tered. District Attorney Rex Gore an nounced Monday that no charges will be filed in what he called a "tragic accidental death." Evidence collected by Trooper B C. Jones of the N.C. Highway pa trol indicates that Marsh was initial ly hit near the highway's intersec tion with Zion Church Road by a large delivery truck drive, t by Charles Gowan Jr., 31, of Ft. Mill. SC. "He saw a moving object in the middle of two northbound lanes," Gore said in a prepared statement. "He hit his brakes and swerved in an attempt to miss the object, but hit it (See NO FAULT. Page 2-A) Former BCC Instructor Gets Cash , Statement In Settlement BY SUSAN USHKK Brunswick Community College and former business instructor Jane Page have reached a settlement in which Page will receive a S? 5 .(MM I payment and acknowledgement that there is no evidence she falsified attendance records. BCC trustees approved the court -mediated settlement and resolution in a closed session with attorneys at the hoard's Nov. 16 meeting and said they would not disclose terms until the settlement was finalized Walters and BCC President Michael Reaves have signed the agreement. Page was to sign it Wednesday, according to her attorney. Gary Shipman of Wilmington Walters said last week he would have no comment on the settlement until all parties had signed Page, whose suit claimed her outspoke ness led to her dismissal, said she filed suit to call attention to problems she says still exist at the college While the legal action has been a painful experience, she said she's not sorry she went through with it "There are serious problems on that campus and I tried to do something about it," she said last week "Maybe this will bring some good leadership in there, at least that's what I'm hoping." Page's cash settlement w ill be a non-taxable award "for emotional distress," not wages, ac cording to Shipman As part of the agreement, neither party ad mits any wrongdoing. The resolution ap proved by trustees acknowledges, however, that while discrepancies were found, the col lege has no evidence Page intentionally falsi fied class attendance records, said Shipman. BCC has said Page's contract was not re newed upon her supervisor's recommendation and because of her "failure to comply with college policies relating to class attendance records," and that auditors had found "serious discrepancies" in her class records that could have placed the college in jeopardy of not re ceiving some federal student financial aid or having to repay state or federal funds. Class attendance records are important be cause most state funding for community col (Se* FORMER, Page 2-A) Monday Night Fire Displaces Two Auto Repair Businesses BY SUSAN USI1KK Investigators Tuesday pinpointed the general starling point of a Monday night fire that displaced two businesses, hut could not determine its cause. Firefighters from Shal lotte, Shallotte Point and Ocean Isle Beach re sponded to the 6:23 p ra. fire that gutted the office, parts room anil waiting room and seriously dam aged bays and equipment at Shal lotte Muffler & Brake Shop, a state inspection station, and L & (i Auto motive Repair. The two businesses shared a metal shell building on N.C. 179 just south of the Shallotte town limits. Muffler shop and building owner Cleve Gore, whose business burned once before in August 1988, was making plans Tuesday morning to get back in business. "We're work ing just as quick as we can on it," he said. The business was insured, said Gore. "After the last fire we were back at ground zero and had tp bor row again to rebuild. And when you borrow you have to have insurance." While waiting for word from the insurance adjuster. Gore said both he and Larry Tapio, who for the past year has leased one-half the building and some equipment fioiii Gore for the auto repair business, plan to try working temporarily from a small building in back of the shop. They may reopen in as little as two weeks' time. "We're trying to get the power on," said Gore. "If we can get the outside lift going and an air compres sor going, we'll be back in business, on a smaller scale." He expects to salvage some equipment, and said the company's insurance adjuster thinks it may be possible to repair part of the building. Gore has been buoyed by the sup port of customers and others, such as the electrician checking to see what's need to set up shop in back and Brunswick Electric Membership Corp., which has promised to give the connection a high priority. "Everybody's been great. Lots of customers have come up there al ready. The support's been great. It shocks me," he said Tuesday after noon. Watch dog Butch, a Japanese Akita, was not in the shop at the time of the fire because Gore and his wife, Sylvia, are trying to mate their unusual breed of dog. "Everybody's asked about the dog, even though he's pretty ferocious when he's in (See SHALLOTTE, P?g?? 2-A) Friday fire claims two Calabash businesses, Page 2-A. - ? ..twiw Wi Ujntl THE SBl is still trying to pinpoint the cause of a fire that gutted part of Shallotte Muffler & Brake Shop on N.C. 179 Monday night. Firefighters from Shallotte, Shallotte Point and Ocean Isle Beach re sponded after a hunter spotted wisps of smoke coming from the metal shell building.