GOLDSBORO, N.C. (WNCN) — After deliberating for an hour and a half, a Wayne County jury found Kenneth Morgan Stancil III guilty of first-degree murder.
He will spend the rest of his life in prison.
During his closing argument Tuesday in a Wayne County court, the district attorney relied largely on Stancil’s own words, painting him as confident and proud about his decision to kill a man at Wayne Community College.
In his counterargument, Stancil’s attorney said the prosecution tried to scare the jury with Stancil’s possession of knives, guns, and white supremacist memorabilia, as well as his numerous tattoos. None of that proved he planned to commit the murder, the defense said.
Neither side disputed that Stancil killed Ron Lane at Wayne Community College in 2015. The prosecution contends it was first-degree murder, but the defense argues the shooting wasn’t carried out with malice, premeditation, and deliberation.
Defense attorney Walter Webster suggested Stancil killed Lane because he worried the man was a child molester making homosexual advances toward his younger brother. It later emerged that Lane had “liked” two of the brother’s pictures on Facebook, including one in which the brother was shirtless. The defense declined to present any witnesses.
But District Attorney Matt Delbridge has pointed instead to the fact that Stancil was fired by Lane shortly before the shooting.
Delbridge played a recording Stancil made around 2:30 am on April 13, 2015. Hours later, he went to Wayne Community College to shoot his former boss. It was the second time the jury heard the tape, after prosecutors presented it Monday as evidence.
In the video, Stancil says, “I’m just attracted to killing and hurting people. I’m just attracted to that. I like inflicting pain on others.”
He also says, “I’m going to do the deed. I’ve made my mind up, and I will be happy to spend the rest of my life in prison.”
He said, in the video, that he wants to be feared and respected, which sometimes carries the price of spilling blood. He was, he said, doing a favor for his family, his race, his people, his nation and the world.
Delbridge ended his closing arguments with Stancil saying: “The next time you see me, I will be on TV, but the person I murdered, killed, they will be on TV too.”
“If you had any doubt about what he intended to do, right there at the end he just really gives it to us, doesn’t he?” Delbridge said. “‘The person that I murder.'”
“You just cannot send a young man to prison for rest of his life, never to come out again, until it’s in a body bag, on evidence like this,” defense attorney Walter Webster said.
The jury should discount the video, he said, because Stancil made it at 2:30 a.m. and is “rambling and incoherent” on the tape.
The defense also said that handwriting on a note allegedly written by Stancil that says “Victory Day 4-13-15” doesn’t match Stancil’s writing.
And Webster argued that the decision to kill Lane was, in the end, a spur-of-the-moment choice. He said Stancil was indecisive on the day of the shooting. He didn’t walk right into the print shop and confront Lane, but rather waited an hour after arriving at the campus.
“Something set him off in the room,” Webster said. “Did Lane laugh at him for trying to act tough? Tell him nothing he could do to try to protect brother?”
“You don’t have to decide who shot Ron Lane,” he told the jury. “We told you from beginning who shot him. Was the shot premeditated, deliberated, and with malice?”
The jury deliberated a total of 90 minutes, not counting a break for lunch.