2 newest suspects in Halifax County quadruple murder appear before judge

HALIFAX, N.C. (WNCN) — Two men arrested in the August quadruple murder in Halifax County appeared before a judge Tuesday morning.

Keyon Quarice West, 23, and James Edward Powell, 25, both of Roanoke Rapids, are the second and third persons charged in the killings, according to authorities.

Both face four counts of first-degree murder in the Enfield killings, which happened Aug. 21, 2017.

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They will be appointed attorneys, according to District Attorney Valerie Asbell.

“It’s an ongoing investigation and I am under an ethical obligation not to discuss this case further at this time,” Asbell said. “Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the Harris and Whitely families.”

Powell was already facing charges of murder, attempted murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon in connection with a Saturday killing in the area of Deer Run Drive in Roanoke Rapids, according to a social media post by Halifax County Sheriff Tripp.

Matthew Simms, of Enfield, is also charged in connection with the quadruple killing. He had already been arrested in October 2017. He faces four counts of first-degree murder, Tripp said.

Simms was awaiting trial on a separate killing at the time of the slayings in Enfield, but had bonded out and then failed to appear for court, according to online records.

Authorities say two couples were playing cards in a home when the killings happened.

Investigators believe that items were stolen from the home, but have declined to say what was taken. One of the victims, James Harris, was registered to run a firearms business from the home where the killings happened.

Harris’ wife Janice was murdered along with visitors James and Peggy Whitley.

Authorities have also said they believe the home was specifically targeted and that the killing was gang-related.

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