Testimony begins in Pasquotank Correctional murder trial
Published 7:23 am Tuesday, October 15, 2019
Monday’s courtroom testimony in the Mikel Edward Brady II capital murder trial proved as gruesome as anticipated.
After five full days of courtroom action to seat 12 regular jurors and settle on three alternates last week, Assistant District Attorney Kimberly Pellini detailed in her opening statements late Friday afternoon that an attempted escape from Pasquotank Correctional Institution in Elizabeth City by Brady and three other inmates in October 2017 was planned over a period of several months.
Pellini said after studying guards and stockpiling supplies, October 12 was picked based on who would be working that day.
“You will learn,” said Pellini while pointing to Brady, “that this inmate led a small army that was at war with correctional officers who were not aware of it.”
During his brief opening statements, defense attorney Thomas Manning advised the jury that when all the evidence is shown they would know who was involved and who was responsible and accountable for what happened.
Shortly after court opened Monday morning, William Davis, a former Elizabeth City police officer now working as a Currituck County deputy, was on the stand recalling his October 12, 2017 actions when called to the prison for the escape attempt.
Describing that the area was in chaos, Davis said it was difficult to see in the sewing room due to the heavy smoke, but in other areas he did see several wounded individuals, lots of blood and some people that were already dead. He called EMS and attempted to provide emergency medical treatment where possible.
After Davis testified, a 26-minute video from his body-cam was shown, which provided even more graphic details to the scene and some of the events that day.
Some family members of victims left before the video started, others during. Others that did not leave appeared visibly upset.
While Davis described the scene as in total chaos, the video showed in graphic detail just that.
After a few moments, and time to recover, most family members returned to the courtroom.
Throughout the rest of the day, Pellini and District Attorney Andrew Womble used the testimony of former and current Pasquotank Correctional Institution employees to relate the events of the day that included officer Veronica Darden, the prison sewing plant manager, being killed and her radio used to make a fake disturbance call for Unit Two and Justin Smith’s body found in an elevator next to Darden’s.
Others, like Lt. Jerry Byrum who still works at the prison, explained normal daily routines as compared to the day’s events and how he was attacked by Brady during the escape attempt. George Midgett, who has not worked since that day, related how he thought he was going to die from his wounds and spent six days in a Norfolk hospital.
Brady, surrounded by six Public Safety Adult Division Special Operation Response Team guards, sat quietly in the courtroom throughout the day.