Deputies investigate threats against homicide suspect’s family

Jul. 02, 2013 @ 05:47 PM

Durham County sheriff’s deputies are investigating verbal and gun threats reportedly made Monday against a homicide defendant’s family inside and outside a jail courtroom.

Deputies also are considering a new security procedure to require that first appearances for those charged with murder be held in the new courthouse.

The alleged threats involve the case of Christopher Stanback, 25, who was arrested last week and charged with murder in the June 18 fatal shooting of 37-year-old Jermaine Andre McDonald.

A deputy said two women reported being threatened Monday in the courtroom, located on the first floor of the Durham County Detention Center, which houses the jail. The women said they were there to support Stanback. In response, a second deputy was assigned to attend court.

After Stanback’s case was heard, two deputies walked with his family to their car, which was parked on Pettigrew Street near the jail. Soon after the deputies walked back to the jail, a member of Stanback’s family returned and said “they are pointing guns at us,” according to the deputy’s report.

The deputies returned to the corner of Pettigrew and Mangum streets to find the suspects, and witnesses told them there were two vehicles involved: a small, red sport-utility vehicle headed toward the DATA bus station, and a gold Cadillac.

“Several deputies flooded the area looking for the vehicles,” the deputy wrote. Police were also notified, but neither vehicles nor suspects were found.

Maj. Paul Martin, who oversees criminal investigations for the Durham County Sheriff’s Office, said that because of the alleged threats, sheriff’s officials are discussing holding first appearances for inmates charged with murder in the new courthouse, which he said would be less prone to drive-by shootings.

Martin said judges would have to agree to the change, because it affects their schedules “which can become rather complicated.”

Meanwhile, Martin said, deputies will continue to track down suspects and try to find their vehicles.

“If a criminal behaves like this near the courthouse or the jail, he can expect a thorough investigation and perhaps even a search warrant at his residence,” Martin said.