Murder trial begins for inmate in fatal Pasquotank Correctional escape attempt
Published 9:06 pm Monday, October 7, 2019
Jury selection began Monday, October 7 for one of four inmates facing charges following an October 2017 failed escape attempt at Pasquotank Correctional Institution in Elizabeth City.
In a rare but not unheard of move, the murder trial for Mikel Edward Brady II was transferred from Pasquotank County, where the offenses occurred, to Dare County to avoid possible jury bias.
During the 2017 escape attempt, about a dozen state employees and inmates were hurt and four state employees at the prison were killed: correctional officers Veronica Darden, Wendy Shannon and Justin Smith and maintenance mechanic Geoffrey Howe. Family members of the victims were present for some of Monday’s court proceedings.
For Brady’s part in the violent escape attempt, the defendant is charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder, felony inciting to riot, attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, burning certain public buildings and attempted escape from state prison.
Official reports indicate that at the time of the failed escape attempt, Brady was serving a prison sentence for the attempted first-degree murder of a state trooper in Durham County.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty and several questions to potential jurors focused on their ability to render that verdict if the facts support it.
Much of Monday’s trial time was spent with District Attorney Andrew Womble questioning the first group of a pool of 600 potential jurors. Prospective jurors are being shuttled in from an off-site parking lot and assigned to three different groups, each reporting at different times. Jury selection is likely to continue through most of the week for a trial that expected to last about three weeks and could stretch into a fourth.
Brady, sitting quietly in the courtroom throughout the first day of jury selection, was surrounded by six Department of Corrections guards.