Wednesday, December 7, 2022

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17-year-old defendant in Graham double homicide will be tried in superior court

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One of two teenagers charged with the murders of two other teens in Graham on August 25 will be tried in superior court on two first-degree murder charges.  He faces the possibility of two life sentences in prison.

During a probable cause hearing in his case Tuesday morning in juvenile court, chief district court judge Brad Allen sent Tyshon Wiley to superior court after a  grand jury indicted the 17-year-old black male on two first-degree murder charges in the deaths of Malik Martin and Melvin Wiley, whose family identified Melvin Wiley as Tyshon Wiley’s cousin.  Martin was killed on the night of his 16th birthday.

A decision on whether a second suspect, a 14-year-old black male who is also charged in the double homicide, will be tried in juvenile or adult court was continued until next month. That teen, variously named Kymoni Melendez Poteat or just Kymoni Melendez (as he introduced himself on the WebEx video with the judge), was being held in juvenile detention outside Alamance County.

His attorney, Rowena Khot, asked for, and was granted, an extension on his case until November 8 in order to allow her to review “a lot of documentation” in the juvenile’s court file from the charges.

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Both Tyshon Wiley and Melendez-Poteat are charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the double-homicide which took place near Graham Village Apartments at 901 East  Hanover Road on the edge of Graham (near Burlington and the town of Haw River) on August 25.  And both have now been indicted by a grand jury on those charges, according to Allen during court Tuesday morning.

Wiley was present in court Tuesday morning, hand-cuffed and shackled.  He slouched in a seat beside his juvenile court defense attorney, Janice Brooks.  Judge Allen denied Brooks’ request to allow him to be unchained for his courtroom appearance before he was brought into the courtroom.

During an earlier appearance last week when Wiley was being held in detention and the proceedings with him were being held by WebEx, assistant district attorney Morgan Whitney said Wiley had “confessed to being involved in the crime.”

Whitney argued that the statute allows defendants in capital murder cases, even when the death penalty will not be sought (as he said it would not in Wiley’s case), to be held without allowing bond, which is what he had requested for Wiley.

At the end of court proceedings on Tuesday, Tyshon Wiley, was given a $2 million bond, after the judge and district attorney spent almost a half hour consulting statute books to decide whether he could be held without bond, as initially requested by assistant district attorney Whitney.

Allen set Wiley’s bond at $2 million with further conditions that if the financial arrangements were met, he is to wear an electronic monitor and remain in his home except in case of an emergency. He is also to have no contact with anyone – co-defendants, witnesses, or members of the victims’ families – connected with the case.

Allen appointed attorney John Cox to represent Tyshon Wiley on the murder charges and excused attorney Brooks from any further involvement in the case.

Tyshon Wiley’s grandmother and great-grandmother were in the courtroom on Tuesday, the latter apparently serving as his guardian.

Allen required all members of the courtroom audience to remain in their seats for about five minutes after Wiley was led from the courtroom and said he did not want anyone to attempt to interfere with Wiley’s transportation.  Before Wiley’s entry that morning, judge Allen had also admonished the crowd not to make any comments or have any emotional outbursts during the courtroom proceedings.

In addition to the two teens arrested and now indicted on first-degree murder charges, a Durham man has been arrested in connection with the double homicide.  Taijon Martre Laury, 20, black, male, has been charged with two counts of being an accessory after the fact to first degree murder and remains in jail under a $2 million secured bond.

In another unusual issue, Wiley’s birth date from the grand jury indictment was listed as April 11, 2008, the same date as Melendez-Poteat’s.  Whitney noted that the state would attempt to straighten out the date, and amend the indictment, to Wiley’s actual birth date, August 5, 2005, when the case is held in superior court.

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