14- and 17-year-old teens remain in custody; future court dates set for Oct. 4 & 11
Two juveniles charged with first-degree murder will remain in secure custody, after two separate hearings in juvenile court Tuesday morning. Both 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.
About a dozen family members of the two 16-year-old boys killed were on hand to watch the proceedings in court Tuesday morning. Also on hand were relatives of the 18-year-old who was also shot, which prompted the original Graham police call to the apartment complex in the early morning hours of August 25.
According to family members gathered outside the court building after the proceedings, all of the teens knew each other and often “hung out” together.
Family members remained at a loss to understand what could have prompted two of the teens to kill the other two.
Neither of the deceased lived at Graham Village Apartments, and family members had no idea why they would have been in that area.
Both of the accused teens will remain in secure custody at a youth detention center, based on the ruling by district court judge Rick Champion.
Tyshon Wiley, 17, black, male, appeared via WebEx from a juvenile detention facility. Attorney Janice Brooks is representing Wiley.
Assistant district attorney Morgan Whitney described Wiley as having “confessed to being involved in the crime.”
Attorney Rowena Khot is representing the other teen, 14-year-old Kymoni Melendez Poteat, who was not present in person or via an online connection. Khot agreed to waive the initial secure custody hearing for her client.
Poteat’s next hearing, a review of the security custody order which requires him to remain in detention pending trial, was scheduled for October 4; a probable cause hearing was set for Wiley on October 11.
The judge noted that he was keeping Wiley in secure custody both because he represents “a danger to property and person” and out of concern, expressed by the prosecution, for his safety over concerns of potential retaliation.
Meanwhile, no charges have yet been filed in the shooting of another teen, Kameron Byrd, which prompted the original arrival of police at the apartment complex.
Police originally were led to believe Byrd was the only victim when they responded to a “shots fired” call to the parking lot of the Graham Village Apartments at about 1:00 a.m. Police reported, “Initial information provided did not indicate that there were any other victims.”
However, after a missing person’s report was filed later that morning with the Burlington police, Graham’s police returned to the apartment complex and ultimately discovered two male teens dead from gunshot wounds in the woods adjacent to the apartments.
Family members identified the deceased 16-year-olds as Malik Martin and Melvin Wiley.
Even a month later, family members were near tears as they discussed the deaths of their loved ones.
As for the teen who was injured, Kameron Byrd, according to his mother, Lakisha Byrd, doctors were unable to remove the bullet from her son’s upper leg. A special surgery has yet to be scheduled at one of the regional hospitals – most probably UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill, she said – to remove the bullet.
In addition to the two teens arrested last week (Tuesday night, September 20), a Durham man was arrested Friday 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.
The two victims: Malik Martin and Melvin Wiley
Malik Martin, 16, was born in Chapel Hill on August 24, 2006 to Charles Pulliam, Jr. and Priscilla Brown. He was educated in North Carolina, Virginia, and California, according to an obituary posted by Blackwell Funeral Home. He had just celebrated his 16th birthday the day before his murder. In fact, family members said there had been a party for him on the night of August 24 before he was found shot dead the next morning.
Martin’s hobbies included playing video games and basketball, spending time with his family, and watching funny Instagram videos.
Martin is survived by his mother and father; maternal great-grandmother Priscilla Jones; paternal great-grandmothers Georgia Pulliam and Cathy Sellars; paternal grandparents Charles and Tammy Pulliam; maternal grandmother Diane Byrd; brothers Khamron and Josiah Pulliam, Elijah and Ezra McDowell, and Kamden Bowman; sister Jahnek Brown; and cousin Corinne Florence, as well as a host of maternal and paternal aunts, uncles, and cousins.
Malik’s sister, Jahnek Brown, posted some thoughts on social media, which her mother shared with the newspaper after the court session.
“Watch your back. Everybody who smiles in your face isn’t smiling when you turn around. Watch who you call your ‘friend.’
“These boys sat in his home. . . all night on his 16th birthday to turn around and kill him later in the night.”
“These are the same boys he told me stories about when I came home, took pictures smiling/laughing with him, sat in the place he lays his head, ate food with, starved with, etc. These are the same boys that took one of his best friend’s life as well – flaunted it on social media and showed no remorse.”
Commenting on both her brother and Melvin Wiley, Jahnek Brown says, “To know both of these boys, a blessing. They stood out so much more than average 16-year-olds. They were ahead of their time. They were pure.”
“They took two beautiful boys with beautiful hearts and pure souls. This is a praying time!”
[The comments (above) are reprinted with the permission of the victim’s mother.]
For her part, Malik’s mother is still grieving – and feeling very betrayed by those who shot her son on the night of his 16th birthday. In her own post, she says, “Y’all lil boys [were] supposed to be my [son’s] friend and came to his birthday party and shot my baby in his back the same night.”
Melvin Wiley, 16, was born on January 23, 2006 to John Westbrook and Nakeel Rogers, according to an obituary posted by Blackwell Funeral Home.
Wiley was a junior at Williams High School and enjoyed sports, particularly football and fishing, as well as playing video games and rapping. He loved the Lord and loved to be with his “MeMe.”
In addition to his parents, Wiley is survived by: maternal grandparents Evangelist Brenda Graves and James Graves; great-grandmother Ophelia Totten; brother Jaden Westbrook; sisters Nykiyanna Rogers and Janiya Westbrook; aunt Nishika Rogers and uncle Eric Westbrook; two special friends, Zyneal and Malachi; and a host of relatives, family, and friends.
Funeral services for Martin and Wiley were held at Blackwell Funeral Home in Burlington earlier this month.
See earlier coverage of the murders and arrests:
Original coverage (August 27, 2022): https://alamancenews.com/two-teenaged-boys-found-shot-dead-in-woods-near-apts-where-another-teen-had-been-wounded-by-gunshot/
Two teens arrested (September 21, 2022): https://alamancenews.com/breaking-overnight-graham-police-arrest-two-teenagers-for-double-homicide-of-two-other-teens-last-month/
Durham man arrested in connection with Graham double-homicides (September 23, 2022): https://alamancenews.com/breaking-fri-third-suspect-arrested-in-graham-double-homicide-case/