LUMBERTON — An investigator with the District Attorney’s Office says there has been an uptick in cases in which criminal defendants have threatened potential state witnesses, and charges have been brought in four of them.
Erich Hackney said the District Attorney’s Office has no tolerance for such acts.
“While the District Attorney’s Office and the courts take these intimidation cases very seriously, some defendants are bent, bound and determined to dispense vengeance on their own and not avail themselves to the justice system,” he said. “By doing so, they are simply adding fuel to the fire.”
He said magistrates have made five referrals to his office in the past month, resulting in four arrests.
They are as follows:
— Michael Lee Godwin, of 2280 Balance Farm Road in St. Pauls, is awaiting trial in Robeson County Superior Court for burning down the home of the prosecuting witness and his family in April 2017. He was released 11 days after his arrest on a $10,000 bond with one of his release conditions being that he have “no contact, not go on the premises of, nor interfere in any way with” the prosecuting witness or any members of their household.
According to Hackney, Godwin has gone to the home of the witness as many as 30 times in a day, following that person to the car and shouting obscenities.
Godwin has been charged with intimidating a state’s witness and communicating threats. He was jailed under a $200,000 bond.
Godwin was convicted in March 2012 with assault by pointing a gun at this same witness and in June 2014 with assault against this witness by cutting his face.
— Five times from May 7 to Aug. 3, a prosecuting witness had taken out warrants again Kenneth Taylor for violation of a domestic violence protective order, and larceny and assault. According to Hackney, Taylor, 56, of 910 Oakton Church Road in Lumberton, threw a brick through the front window of her home, cut her car tires, and called and texted her numerous times. Hackney said an investigation showed Taylor called her 97 times and accessed her social media site 516 times in two days.
Taylor was charged with injury to personal property, violation of a domestic violence protective order and intimidation of a state’s witness. He was jailed under a $200,000 bond.
— According to Hackney, a prosecuting witness who is handicapped had taken out criminal summons on July 27 against Robin Lilly and Mary Settle for assault and battery and assault with a deadly weapon. Hackney said the witness was told by Lilly and Settle that if he did not drop the charges, he would be dead before the case made it to court.
Hackney said the witness was beaten twice and also hit once with a motor vehicle, and was taken to Cape Fear Valley Hospital for treatment as a result.
Lilly, 36, of 159 Abram Drive in Parkton, has been charged with three counts of assault on a handicapped person, one count of communicating threats, one count of intimidation of a state’s witness, one count of conspiracy to commit intimidation of a state’s witness, one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and one county of possession of a stolen firearm. He was jailed under a $220,000 bond.
Settle, 32, also of 159 Abram Drive in Parkton, was charged with assault on a handicapped person, communicating threats, intimidation of a state’s witness and conspiracy to commit intimidation of a state’s witness.
Editor Donnie Douglas can be reached at 910-416-5649 or [email protected]