HALIFAX, N.C. (WNCN) — The man charged with killing two elderly couples playing a card game inside a Halifax home in August was denied bond at his first court appearance Friday.
Matthew Simms, 25, of Enfield, faces four counts of first-degree murder, Halifax County Sheriff Wes Tripp said.
Records show that he was out on bond for a 2015 murder when the two couples were murdered.
Investigators have said two married couples had been sitting around a kitchen table playing cards when they were killed sometime between Aug. 20 and 21.
James Harris was killed along with his wife, Janice Harris, 72, and another couple, James Whitley, 76, and Peggy Whitley, 67.
Simms was taken into custody in early September after failing to appear at a June 15 court date on a murder charge, court documents show.
Simms was charged in the June 22, 2015 death of Jarhamel Cambridge, of Enfield. He also faced a felony probation violation charge after originally being charged with possession of a firearm by convicted felon.
According to court documents, Simms was arrested on Nov. 19, 2015 in Cambridge’s murder. He was given a $100,000 secured bond with electronic monitoring on Feb. 17, 2016. His bond was reduced to $20,000 unsecured on May 18, 2016. Simms was able to bond out and then failed to appear in court on June 15 of this year. A judge then ordered a $100,000 secured bond, records show. On Sept. 7, Simms was served with arrest papers for failure to appear in court and was arrested. Simms has been jailed since that point and had his bond raised to $500,000 secured.
Simms was charged with quadruple murder on Oct. 26. The 2015 murder charge was never dropped. Once Simms was charged with the quadruple murder, he was denied bond.
Tripp said evidence, including forensic evidence, has been collected that led investigators to believe the murder was “gang-related.”
ATF records show Harris ran a gunsmithing business out of his home.
According to an ATF database, J and J Gunsmithing was a federally licensed firearm business as of July 2017. The gunsmithing business was registered to Harris at the same address where the killings occurred.
Simms made his first court appearance around 10:30 a.m. and was again denied bond. He asked the judge when he can file for an expedient trial and was told that it’s a matter to discuss with his attorneys.
Loved ones of the four victims were in court for Simms’ first appearance.
Simms next court date is set for Nov. 15 and will determine if he has proper representation.