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Two murder indictments returned

By By SARAH HODGES, Staff Writer
Out of 76 true bills of indictment handed down during Monday's Beaufort County Grand Jury session, two were for second-degree murder counts, according to the Beaufort County Clerk of Court's office.
The murder indictments had been sought by the Washington Police Department.
Jason Vilvens of 220 Woolard Lane, Washington, was indicted in the August 2002 hit-and-run case in which 64-year-old Jack Staten of Greenville was killed on the U.S. Highway 17 bridge in Washington. Vilvens was identified by law enforcement officers as the driver of the vehicle involved in that case. Tests showed that he was driving while impaired at the time of the collision, law enforcement officers reported.
At the time of Staten's death, Vilvens' license had been suspended in Ohio, where he was charged with two previous driving while impaired charges – one in 1994 and another in 1995.
According to Detective Jerry Davis of the Washington Police Department, who presented the case to the grand jury, Staten was fishing on the U.S. 17 bridge when he was struck by a red 1988 Chevrolet pickup truck.
Staten was knocked into the Pamlico River, from which he was pulled to shore by passing boaters and law enforcement officers.
The night of the incident, police said Vilvens had four children in the truck with him. Within one hour after the accident, Vilvens was apprehended at a Chocowinity restaurant.
Vilvens remains in custody at the Beaufort County Jail.
Lt. Cliff Hales presented the second case Monday in which Curtis Earl Keys, 40, of 604 Bonner St., Washington, was indicted for second-degree murder for the Jan. 22 shooting death of Jerry Louis Ward, also of Washington.
The shooting occurred outside the Metro Arms Apartments on Respess Street.
Ward, who lived in the Rivercreek area of Washington, was found in the yard of 321 Respess St. with a single gunshot wound to the chest. Ward was pronounced dead on arrival at Beaufort County Hospital.
Detectives said an altercation began that night between the victim and Keys. Keys reportedly fired a 38-caliber handgun at Ward and another person, who escaped unharmed.
Keys is also in the custody of the Beaufort County Jail.
Among the other indictments handed down Monday were the following: