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Murder charge in shooting death of woman found in vacant lot last year

Winston-Salem police made an arrest Tuesday in the killing of Ollie Deneen Richardson, 54, who was found shot to death in a vacant lot on Liberia Street on May 10.

After nearly eight months of investigation, detectives identified Quashawn Lamont Stover, 23, of Chelsea Street, as a suspect in Richardson’s killing, and also as a suspect in a separate shooting that took place May 9 on West 12th Street.

Police obtained warrants for Stover on Dec. 31, and arrested him Tuesday at an apartment on Timlic Avenue on charges of discharging a firearm into an occupied building and possession of a firearm by a felon. Both charges were in connection with the 12th Street shooting.

After Stover’s arrest, investigators say they briefed the Forsyth County District Attorney’s Office on their evidence linking Stover to Richardson’s killing. The DA’s office issued a warrant for Stover’s arrest on first-degree murder.

He is being held in the Forsyth County Jail without bond.

Richardson’s body was found in May nearly 6 miles from her Sawyer Street home on the city’s north side. Some of her family members told the Journal in the weeks after her death that she would have never gone to “that part of town.”

When asked what events led Richardson to the lot on Liberia Street, Winston-Salem police Lt. Gregory Dorn declined comment, saying that information was part of the DA’s prosecution. He also declined comment when asked if Stover used the same gun to shoot Richardson and to shoot into the home on West 12th Street.

Dorn said there is no connection between Richardson and the home on West 12th Street that Stover allegedly shot at a day before her death.

Minnie Little, Richardson’s mother, said Wednesday in a phone call she was glad police had finally made an arrest in her daughter’s killing, and that the arrest would bring closure to her and her family.

“I didn’t think they ever were going to find anybody,” Little said. “She was a loving person, and she didn’t just go around bringing grief and all this stuff to people. I don’t know what her intentions were and why he did it, but I feel sorry for him.”

Over the last eight months, with seemingly little headway in the police investigation, Little said her family had all but abandoned any hope Richardson’s killer would be brought to justice.

“My daughters, my son and my grandchildren, they gave up,” Little said. “They just said she’s another death out there and they won’t do anything.”

Dorn described the investigation into Richardson’s death as a slow, building process. While ballistic evidence played a role in the investigation, Dorn said investigators relied on witnesses to develop cause to charge Richardson.

“We never quit on it,” Dorn said of the investigation. “I know it seems like we put it on the back burner, but that’s not the case.”

Richardon’s killing was one of 15 unsolved homicides in 2019. With Stover’s arrest, there are now 14 unsolved homicides from last year.

Authorities ask anyone with information about Stover or the events leading to Richardson’s death to contact the police department at 336-773-7700, or Crime Stoppers at 336-727-2800.

Woman convicted in Algarad killings back in court for drug, larceny and firearm charges

Two years ago, Krystal Nicole Matlock stood in Courtroom 5A and pleaded guilty to her role in the brutal murders of two men buried in the backyard of a Clemmons House.

Wednesday, she was back in the same courtroom, this time pleading guilty to multiple drug charges, as well as charges of breaking and entering and possession of a firearm.

Matlock, 33, entered guilty pleas in Forsyth Superior Court on Wednesday to charges that she possessed and sold illegal drugs such as methamphetamine. She also pleaded guilty to charges that she broke into the home of a Forsyth County couple and stole certain items, including household electronics and jewelry. In indictments, prosecutors allege that she then tried to sell some of those items at pawn shops, claiming they belonged to her.

Per a plea agreement, Judge David Hall of Forsyth Superior Court consolidated everything into two separate judgments. Hall sentenced Matlock to a minimum of one year and nine months with a maximum of three years and eight months in prison.

Forsyth County prosecutors alleged that Matlock began committing crimes less than a month after she got off parole for charges related to the deaths of two men — Joshua Frederick Wetzler and Tommy Dean Welch. The two men were buried for five years in the backyard of a house on Knob Hill Drive in Clemmons.

According to prosecutors, court documents and testimony, self-described Satanist Pazuzu Algarad and his girlfriend, Amber Burch, fatally shot the two men. Algarad shot Wetzler multiple times in July 2009 and Burch shot Welch in the head in October 2009. Matlock was convicted of helping bury Wetzler’s body.

In June 2017, she pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit accessory after the fact to second-degree murder. She was sentenced to a minimum of three years and 10 months in prison. She got out in May 2018, after receiving credit for time she served awaiting trial. Her parole ended Feb. 1.

Burch pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in 2017 and is currently serving a sentence of at least 30 years. Algarad killed himself before his case went to trial.

Assistant District Attorney Jonathan Shrader said in court Wednesday that in February 2019, Matlock was living at a motel and had asked two men to help store firearms — a pellet gun and a long-rifle — at a house on Sprague Street. Winston-Salem police officers found the guns in a basement of the house, Shrader said. Because of her previous conviction, Matlock was prohibited from possessing firearms.

In March 2019, Matlock entered into an agreement to clean a house for a Forsyth County couple. Part of the deal was that Matlock would spend the night in the house before cleaning the next day.

Shrader said that Matlock’s boyfriend went to the house and, based on home-surveillance video, the boyfriend and Matlock took items from the house over a three-day period. The couple also broke into a garden shed and stole items, he said.

She tried to pawn several items at local shops. According to indictments, she got $100 in cash by falsely claiming she owned a pearl necklace, a pearl bracelet and a pin.

Jeffrey Hutchins, Matlock’s attorney, said his client has struggled with drug addiction.

Hall ordered Matlock to undergo drug treatment while in prison and requested that state prison officials make sure Burch and Matlock are not held in the same prison.

Matlock is featured in a five-part documentary series called “The Devil You Know,” which is currently showing on Viceland cable channel.

Even in gun debates, democracy can still work

Different people, in very different circumstances, showed up in photographs from wildly different gatherings.

The first — and more disturbing — was snapped last summer in Richmond, Va., in a protest over a special legislative session.

A handful of men stand outside an office in the state capital wearing body armor. One, the sneering, bald, fat one, has an assault-style rifle slung around his neck.

What’s that about? Was he angry? Frightened? Both?

The second photo, much closer to home, was snapped Monday night during a meeting of the Surry County Board of Commissioners.

The room was packed, with men and women, who had turned out in an overwhelming show of support for a resolution to protect residents’ Second Amendment rights. They’re seated, calm and respectful.

Different photos. Different groups. Same concerns.

‘All legal means’

The resolution in support of the Second Amendment, passed by commissioners in Surry, is straightforward, smartly worded — and changes absolutely nothing about existing gun laws.

It is two pages, or one if printed on front and back, and contains all the usual “whereas’es” and “therefores” that come with resolutions.

The key phrases, for your reading pleasure:

The board “declares Surry County a Second Amendment Constitutional Rights Protection County … The Surry County government will utilize all legal means necessary to protect the Second Amendment Rights of Surry County citizens including, but not limited to, legal action.”

The resolution also directs county officials not to use local money, employees or facilities for the “purpose of enforcing or assisting in gun confiscation.”

It’s also worth pointing out that the word “sanctuary” does not appear anywhere in it. The phrase “sanctuary city” is inflammatory, and implies something illegal.

“We wanted to make sure everybody was comfortable and everything was legal,” said Mark Jones, the chairman of the Surry County Republican Party who led the resolution effort. “I think we didn’t want to do anything not backed by the Constitution or anything extreme.”

Nothing wrong there — the system working the way it should. Local people petitioning elected representatives to pass something they wanted. Anyone opposed was likewise free to speak, assemble and if on the losing end, attempt to change opinions and ultimately, votes.

That used to be called democracy.

The resolution approved in Surry County comes after others that have swept local governments in Virginia, where later this month the legislature is expected to take up several gun bills. Proposals include a “red-flag law” that would allow for the temporary removal of guns from people deemed a threat to others or themselves; a ban on assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and silencers; and a requirement for background checks for gun sales and transfers.

A similar move last summer, in a special session called by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam that ultimately went nowhere, is what attracted the yahoo brigade featured in the first photograph.

And it’s the same “threat” that’s prompted a new, nationwide call for demonstrators to flow into Richmond on Jan. 20, Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

But at least some of the outside agitators have recognized the need to tone down the optics.

“We urge you to dress like average Americans, not in camo or full battle rattle,” read a post on a Website called AmmoLand. “Our purpose is to be force multipliers for the people of Virginia. … Please no camouflage or military gear. We want to present as quiet professionals.”

In other words, yahoos and holster-sniffers need not apply. Or at minimum, at least come in disguise.

A growing movement

In response to gun proposals in Virginia, more than 100 counties, cities and towns have passed resolutions in support of the Second Amendment.

Here in North Carolina, Cherokee and Surry counties led the way. Stokes, Wilkes, Lincoln and other counties have (or soon will) follow suit. It’s unlikely to happen in Forsyth County, not right away anyhow.

“I’ve not heard any commissioners ask say anything or ask about it,” County Manager Dudley Watts said.

There is a difference between some of the resolutions approved in Virginia and the one passed in Surry County. Farther north, they’ve been called “Second Amendment sanctuary” resolutions and promise to defy “unconstitutional” gun restrictions.

Temporarily taking weapons from people deemed threatening isn’t outrageous, provided there are judicial safeguards in place. The same way cops need to convince a judge to issue a search warrant before rifling a car or private home.

No one is saying that federal agents should be allowed to snatch any revolver or shotgun they come across. Nor is anyone seriously proposing allowing a beat cop to simply take someone’s word about a threat. Let a magistrate make a fact-based decision similar to the way probable cause for arrest is determined and then have a judge review it.

A subtle distinction, but it is an important one.

So, too, is the difference in the gatherings in Richmond last summer and the one in Dobson on Monday.

The guy in Virginia, in that moment, sure looked as he meant to provoke, intimidate and threaten. By contrast, the people of Surry County made their feelings known without unnecessary theatrics or visceral agitation.

A man carrying a legal firearm, concealed or stored in a case, to a gun range or his buddy’s farm is different in style and substance from a pretend soldier or actual militant.

He is not the problem; the guy firing into a crowded nightclub or elementary school is.

The distinction is subtle, but important. There’s room in the middle for informed discussion and reasoned debate. The sheer number and frequency of mass shootings and suicides — the dead — deserve that much.

“This is a discussion that’s emotional. I understand that,” Northam said Monday. “I would just hope we’re able to have a civil dialogue and that everybody can be heard.”

Anything wrong with that? We used to call that democracy.

Teen convicted in fatal shooting of her boyfriend. She told Winston-Salem police the shooting was accidental.

In the early-morning hours of Nov. 18, 2018, Mekayla Monique Marsh, then 16, accidentally shot her boyfriend, William Charles Simons Jr., to death.

That indisputable fact has since split two families — Simons’ parents and other family members mourning his too-soon death and Marsh, now 17, mourning the loss of her boyfriend and, according to her attorney, struggling to find a reason to live.

The grief was mixed with anger, as Simons’ family members sought on Wednesday morning for Marsh to receive some kind of punishment for her actions.

Marsh, with the right arm of her attorney, Cara Smith, draped around her and her body shaking, pleaded guilty in Forsyth Superior Court on Wednesday to one count of involuntary manslaughter.

Judge David Hall of Forsyth Superior Court gave Marsh, who had no prior criminal convictions, a suspended sentence with a minimum of one year and three months to a maximum of two years and three months in prison. She was placed on five years of supervised probation. One of the conditions for her probation is that she write a letter to Hall, explaining the tragedy of gun violence. She also has to serve 30 days in the Forsyth County Jail.

“The second amendment (of the U.S. Constitution) never contemplated a 16-year-old having a .45-caliber handgun,” Hall said before handing down the sentence. “A 16-year-old should not have a handgun.”

Simons, 16, was a student at North Forsyth High School and worked at the KFC on Liberty Street, according to his obituary. He had a brother and a sister and was a member of New Direction Movement Cathedral Church.

Simons’ father, William Charles Simons Sr., along with another man sitting on the front row of Courtroom 5A, abruptly walked out of the courtroom after hearing Hall’s sentence, both visibly upset. As the second man walked out of the courtroom, he used profanity in expressing his displeasure with the sentence. It prompted a response from Hall.

“You are a victim, but I don’t want to hear words like that from you,” Hall said.

William Simons Sr. came back a few minutes later.

Marsh and William Simons Jr. were inside an apartment in the 5000 block of Eltha Drive the night he was shot. Marsh lived there with one of her relatives. Numerous people were in the apartment, Assistant District Attorney Belinda Foster said.

Simons Jr. had brought a gun and someone in the apartment had told him to put the gun away, Foster said.

Marsh took the gun away from Simons, and according to several witnesses, she waved the gun around. The gun went off.

A bullet went through one part of Simons’ body, came out and re-entered in the left thigh, hitting the femoral artery, Foster said. The shooting happened at 3:06 a.m. Simons was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead about an hour later, she said. One of Marsh’s family members left the apartment and threw the gun away, but he later told Winston-Salem police where to find it, and police were able to seize the gun.

Winston-Salem police detectives interviewed Marsh three times. She said in the first interview that the shooting was an accident, and in a later interview that Simons told her that the gun was not loaded.

In court, Penny Barr, Simons’ mother, said that, at the apartment, no one seemed to care what happened to her son.

“Everyone was more concerned about saving Mekayla and not my son,” she said.

The only place she can now see her son is at the graveyard, she said.

“She hurt a whole lot of people,” Simons’ father, William Charles Simons Sr., said. “I think her actions were reckless.”

Cara Smith, her attorney, said Marsh knows the impact of what she did. She not only lost her boyfriend but she also has to deal with the fact that she was responsible for his death, Smith said.

Soon after learning Simons had died, Marsh tried to take her own life, Smith said.

At one point, she was banging her hand on concrete and attempting to strangle herself. She was placed on a 24-hour psychiatric hold and then was admitted to the hospital. She was diagnosed with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

In July 2019, she was admitted again after having severe depression and thoughts of suicide, Smith said. Marsh goes to sleep wearing Simons’ jacket, she said.

Hall said that gun violence is an epidemic.

“We’re losing a generation,” he said.