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Complex testimony in Minton trial

By Rose Laudicina
Staff Writer

From the start, both the district attorney and the defense attorney warned the jury that the trial of the State vs. Brian Minton would be complicated.

“At times what you hear is going to be a bit confusing,” Orange-Chatham District Attorney Jim Woodall said during opening statements. “You will hear some inconsistencies, even from the witnesses called by the state. … You are going to hear from various people who were involved to some degree that didn’t get charged and some that didn’t always tell consistent stories of what happened.”

Brian Minton, 21, is facing charges of first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping and conspiracy for the murder of 20-year-old Josh Bailey on July 29, 2008.
Minton is the first of six who were charged with the murder and kidnapping of Bailey to go on trial.

“There will be this set of incidents and testimony about things, and it is going to get complex,” defense attorney James Glover told the jury.

“This may be the most complex set of facts, events and times and places that I have run into in my career,” Glover admitted.

Nearly four years ago, Bailey was shot in the head in the woods off Twisted Oaks Drive outside Carrboro and then buried in a shallow grave. His body was later dug up and reburied near Jordan Lake, where police found it in late September 2008.

Although prosecutors admit Minton was not the person who shot Bailey, they maintain Minton was the group leader, the one who provided the guns and the one who made the decisions, including telling Matt Johnson to shoot Bailey.
Three witnesses in the case talked about the degree of power Minton had over the group.

“He always had the power of persuasion, and I was more or less scared of the connections his family had,” said Jack Johnson II (no relation to Matt Johnson), the first witness to testify, about Minton.

“He was always able to get his hands on guns,” he added.
Jack Johnson has also been charged in the case with first-degree murder, kidnapping and conspiracy, but in exchange for his testimony he will be allowed to plead guilty to the lesser crime of second-degree murder and kidnapping.

Both Jack Johnson and witness Chelsea Lipson, who has not been charged in the case, said Minton told them his father had connections in the Hell’s Angels.

“His father wouldn’t let him go down for anything,” Lipson said.

During this part of the testimony, Mishele Minton, who along with her husband, Greg Minton, has been charged with accessory after the fact to first-degree murder for allegedly trying to hide evidence, shook her head silently, apparently denying the accusations.

Prosecutors are using a series of events leading up to the murder to help show motive.

Jack Johnson and Lipson testified about their involvement, along with that of Minton, Gary Bright, Jacob Maxwell and Matt Johnson, in a breaking and entering in Greensboro a few days before Bailey’s murder, in which they stole marijuana and a game system.

Later these items, along with other valuable items belonging to group members, would go missing, leading the group to blame Matt Johnson.

“We all started to interrogate Matt,” Jack Johnson said during his testimony about what happened the day Bailey was murdered. “I asked him questions about was he a narc, was he working with the police. I wanted to know where my stolen items were.”

“He begin to claim that Josh was the culprit behind the thefts and he was the person working with the police,” Jack Johnson testified.

Jack Johnson said Minton suggested they bring Bailey to the Mintons’ garage and confront him.

Jack Johnson said that once Bailey was brought to the garage, he was attacked both verbally and physically and asked whether he knew where the stolen items were. Bailey denied having anything to do with the stolen items.

“After a while Brian said ‘Screw this; it’s getting us nowhere,’ and that’s when he pulled out the 9-millimeter and said, ‘We need answers and if we don’t get any, someone is going to get shot,’” Johnson said, as members of both his and Bailey’s family in the courtroom began crying.

Bailey was eventually driven out to Twisted Oaks Drive by Minton in his mother’s SUV, accompanied by Jack Johnson, Maxwell, Matt Johnson, Brandon Green and Ryan Lee, and shot.

“His last words were ‘Guys, I didn’t do it,’” Johnson said.

The trial, being presided over by Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson at the Orange County Courthouse in Hillsborough, continues this week with testimony from several witnesses, including others charged in connection with the murder.

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