Murder defendants plead

Published 12:01 am Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sentencing delayed for 2010 beating death of Bath resident

Two defendants involved in the murder of a Bath resident in 2010 pleaded guilty to several charges Monday, but their sentencing was delayed until after they testify in the trial of a third defendant.

Martel Deval Weston pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, armed robbery, first-degree arson and first-degree burglary in the beating death of Leonard Alfred Willson III, said District Attorney Seth Edwards.

Domonic Kidean Farrow pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact to second-degree murder, accessory after the fact to first-degree burglary and accessory after the fact to robbery with a dangerous weapon, Edwards said.

Their sentencing was continued “until the state prays judgment,” Edwards said. Weston and Farrow agreed to testify truthfully against any and all co-defendants, he noted.

“Normally, that is common,” Edwards said. “We normally don’t sentence them until after they testify in order to give them an incentive to tell the truth.”

“The third defendant, Arturo Lopez-Perez, the only offer the state made him was to consolidate some charges with the first-degree murder (charge), which carries life without parole, which is essentially no plea offer much at all,” Edwards said. “He rejected that. I haven’t really offered him much of anything.”

No trial date has been set for Lopez-Perez, Edward said, in part because he’s waiting on laboratory analysis connected with the case.

The arson pleas by Weston and Farrow stem from evidence that a fire was set to cover up the murder, Edwards said.

“This was an agreement reach by the state and the lawyers for the defendants. … I would just say that it was appropriate under the circumstances,” Edwards said.

Farrow, Lopez-Perez and Weston were charged with first-degree murder in the death Willson on Oct. 7, 2010. Each defendant also was charged with first-degree burglary, felony larceny, robbery with a dangerous weapon and first-degree arson.

Willson, a paraplegic, had lived in Bath approximately 15 years. He could frequently be seen cycling in and around Bath on his recumbent handcycle.

On Oct. 14, 2010, a search warrant was obtained and served at Lopez-Perez’s residence in Belhaven. At approximately 11 p.m. that day, investigators learned that Lopez-Perez had been arrested by the Pitt County Sheriff’s Office for resist, delay, and obstructing a public officer. As a result of information collected during the investigation, Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Jamie Cahoon obtained a warrant charging Lopez-Perez with murder.

Investigators then obtained a search warrant for the home and vehicle of a second suspect. On Oct. 15, 2010, deputies and investigators with the sheriff’s office served the search warrant and arrested Weston, who also was charged with murder.

On Oct. 25, 2010, Farrow was arrested by Cahoon with assistance from Hyde County probation and parole officers. Farrow was charged with murder.

On Dec. 13, 2010, a Beaufort County grand jury indicted the men for murder, first-degree burglary, first-degree arson, armed robbery and felony larceny, with all charges stemming from the death of Willson.