A Dunn man was found not guilty yesterday by a Harnett County Superior Court Jury in a controversial shooting.
Brad Hines, 33, was acquitted of a charge of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill and inflicting serious injury.
Mr. Hines was charged with the Aug. 1, 2005 shooting of Robert Surles, 43, of Dunn at Mr. Surles' auto body shop.
A service manager for Perry Brothers Tire Service, Mr. Hines testified he was attacked by Mr. Surles and an unknown, armed black male while attempting to collect a debt owed his employer.
Mr. Hines testified that Mr. Surles attacked him with a board and the other man drew a gun on him.
Mr. Hines said he pulled a handgun, for which he has a permit, and fired a single shot in self-defense, wounding Mr. Surles.
In an October 2005 hearing, District Court Judge Marcia Stewart found no probable cause for the charge against Mr. Hines.
But Senior Assistant District Attorney Peter Strickland decided to press on with the case and secured a grand jury indictment against Mr. Hines.
Defense attorney Parrish Hayes Daughtry told jurors Mr. Hines' account of what happened remained consistent.
"We told you what the evidence would show," Mrs. Daughtry said. "Brad Hines defended his life on Aug. 1, 2005 and his statements about what happened that night have all been consistent."
Mrs. Daughtry told jurors Mr. Hines was presumed innocent unless the prosecution could prove otherwise beyond a reasonable doubt.
"Proof beyond a reasonable doubt means you are fully satisfied and entirely convinced of my client's guilt," Mrs. Daughtry said. "Are you entirely convinced? Are you fully satisfied? If the answer is no, then we ask for a verdict of not guilty."
Defense attorney Gerald Hayes questioned Mr. Hines' possible motive in the shooting.
"What's the motive?" Mr. Hayes said. "If a man owes your company money, the best way to collect is to shoot the man?"
Mr. Hayes said Mr. Hines showed restraint.
"What restraint it took not to pull a gun when you're being hit with a board," Mr. Hayes said. "He waited until a gun was pulled."
The bottom line, Mr. Hayes said, was credibility.
"The only way to convict Brad Hines is if you believe everything Robert Surles says and disbelieve what Brad Hines says," Mr. Hayes said. "Can you say Robert Surles' testimony satisfied you beyond a reasonable doubt?"
Mr. Surles had testified Mr. Hines showed up unexpectedly at his business, rolled down his truck window and, without saying a word, shot him.
"This assault was justified as self-defense," Mr. Hayes said. "My client has cooperated in every respect. Can you say, based on the state's evidence, you believe every word Mr. Surles said is gospel truth?"
After the closing statements, Superior Court Judge Jim Ammons charged the jury and dismissed them to make a verdict.
The jury returned after about 10 minutes and a not guilty verdict was read by courtroom clerk Vivian Jackson.
Gun To Be Destroyed
After the verdict was read, Judge Ammons gave Mr. Hines some advice.
"Take that concealed weapon permit and turn it in to the Sheriff's Office - you don't need it," Judge Ammons said. "If the gun is returned to you, go sell it. You don't need it."
Mr. Strickland told Judge Ammons he wants the gun destroyed.
Judge Ammons convened a hearing to decide the matter.
"In a hearing before a judge, the weapon can either be returned to the defendant or I can order the firearm turned over to the sheriff and destroyed," Judge Ammons said.
Mr. Hayes defended Mr. Hines' right to keep his firearm.
"The court heard the evidence, Mr. Hines is in lawful possession and has a legal permit," Mr. Hayes said. "You're destroying a $600 to $800 gun which belongs to someone who has never committed a violent crime and you've heard testimony of his good character and reputation."
"We have heard the evidence and Mr. Hines took a firearm into a situation late at night where he knew it might be used," Mr. Strickland said. "The state is concerned a similar incident might happen again."
After hearing arguments from both sides, Judge Ammons ruled the firearm be turned over to Harnett County Sheriff Larry Rollins and destroyed.
"If the sheriff decides, he may sell, trade or exchange the gun with a firearms dealer as allowed by North Carolina statutes," Judge Ammons said. "If there is no appeal within 30 days, the order will be carried out."
It really bugs me that judges have the power to do that crap. "Even though the gun is legally owned and was legally used, I'm just gonna take it away from you anyway" What an a$$hole!
No shit! And what is this about? "Take that concealed weapon permit and turn it in to the Sheriff's Office - you don't need it," Judge Ammons said. "If the gun is returned to you, go sell it. You don't need it."