Family speaks out as suspect in Sanford bar murder makes first court appearance

SANFORD, N.C. (WNCN) – The family of a man shot to death at a Sanford bar Saturday spoke out as the suspect made his first appearance in a Lee County courtroom Monday.

RELATED: Sanford bar where man was shot to death loses ABC permits

Joshua Tahjai Brewington, 22, made his appearance via a video monitor.

He greeted the judge with “Good morning” and when asked if he understood his rights, he said, “Yes sir.”


The district attorney’s office told the judge that Brewington and Murchison were in a feud for more than a year.

RELATED: GoFundMe for Winford Murchison’s funeral

According to Sanford police, Winford Junior Murchison, 31, of Sanford, was shot multiple times in his lower abdomen while outside the Tiki Lounge early Saturday morning.

The bar is located at 105 E. Main Street.

Prosecutors said Brewington brought a gun into the Tiki Lounge, checked to see if it had bullets loaded and then showed the gun to Murchison’s wife, Jamese.

“He walked up to the bar and he said it sarcastic, like, ‘Are you good?’ I said, ‘What do you mean am I ‘good’?’ Then he said, ‘Well, I stay strapped’ and he pulled his shirt up and he showed me the gun and his face,” she said.

Prosecutors said the two men were involved in a fist fight outside immediately before the shooting. Jamese Murchison denied that to CBS North Carolina.

“People are saying like a fight. It wasn’t a fight. Junior was trying to defend himself. So, anybody shooting, somebody’s going to try to move their hand or get them away from them,” she said.

Prosecutors said Brewington shot Winford Murchison, who fell to the ground, then stood over the victim and fired again.

The courtroom, packed with people for their own court dates, collectively groaned upon hearing that detail.

Brewington’s criminal background includes robbery with a dangerous weapon and charges of theft, drugs, and possession of a stolen firearm.

Police said they responded to the bar’s parking lot just after 2 a.m. Saturday in reference to a shots fired call. Upon arrival, they found Murchison suffering from multiple gunshot wounds.

Witnesses took cell phone video immediately following the shooting.

Winford Murchison was transported to Central Carolina Hospital by a personal vehicle. He died at the hospital.

A witness told CBS North Carolina Murchison police could not transport him, and the ambulance hadn’t arrived.

“We got in the car, in the back of the police car,” said Michael Rollins,”and picked him up and took him out of the car and carried him. Me and another dude carried him and we put him in. My homeboy’s car was parked right there. We put him in there.”

Murchison’s heartbroken wife returned to the shooting scene Sunday afternoon.

“All I wanted was somebody to help him. There weren’t nobody wants to be laying there. Nobody wants to be helpless,” said Jamese Murchison.

“I loved him and he loved me and no matter what, he was there or I was there, and I just feel so bad because this time I just wasn’t able to help him,” she said.

Joshua Tahjai Brewington, 22, of 2607 Mallard Cove in Sanford, was charged with one count of first degree murder, police said.

His first-degree murder charge is a Class A Felony that brings a maximum punishment of death by lethal injection.

Brewington waived his right to a court-appointed attorney.

“I got my own lawyer,” he told the judge.

The district attorney’s office asked that he remain held in jail with no bond, in part because they said his safety may be at risk.

His probable cause hearing is set for July 27.

Winford’s mother, Stella Murchison, is anxiously awaiting the hearing.

“I’m hearing two or three different things. I just want to find out what he’s saying and what really happened because I know my son ain’t…bothering nobody,” she said.

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