DA: State’s intention to try murder suspect ‘for his life’

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Harry Levert Davis
Harry Levert Davis

Two men charged in connection with two unrelated fatal fires in December 2014 could face the death penalty if convicted of first-degree murder.

District Attorney Ben David is seeking the death penalty in the State’s cases against Marshall Hudson Doran and Harry Levert Davis, he announced during a Rule 24 hearing–a required step in pursuing the death penalty in North Carolina–Wednesday in New Hanover County Superior Court.

Doran, 22, of Kure Beach, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and more than 30 felony charges in connection with a series of fatal fires on Carolina Beach on Dec. 6, 2014.

Related story: Kure Beach man indicted on first-degree murder, attempted murder, arson in Carolina Beach fires

Davis, 24, of Wilmington, was indicted March 30 on charges of first-degree arson, two counts of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of 51-year-old Pamela Pickett and 14-year-old Makayla Pickett, who died in a house fire on Lingo Street on Dec. 23, 2014.

Marshall Doran

Doran previously waived his right to court-appointed counsel and hired Roger Smith Jr.—who is representing Doran on pending felony death by motor vehicle and hit-and-run charges in Wake County—and Douglas Kingsberry, of Tharrington Smith in Raleigh.

Marshall Hudson Doran
Marshall Hudson Doran

Doran is charged with the murders of 72-year-old Mary Angeline Cochran and 43-year-old Darlene Ann Maslar, both of whom died in a fire at a condo complex at 409 Carolina Beach Ave. S. on Dec. 6, 2014.

Read related story: Kure Beach man charged with first-degree murder in Carolina Beach fires

In addition to the murder indictments, Doran has been charged with 11 counts of attempted first-degree murder, 10 counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, one count of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, two counts of first-degree arson, three counts of breaking and entering to a motor vehicle, one count of larceny, three counts of cruelty to animals, three counts of burning personal property and two counts of misdemeanor larceny.

“The State’s intention is to try him for his life,” David said during Doran’s hearing.

Doran’s attorneys did not ask to be heard during the hearing, other than asking for the court to declare Doran indigent when it comes to paying for expert witnesses at trial. He was previously declared indigent–meaning one cannot pay his or her legal expenses–but waived his right to court-appointed counsel and hired Smith and Kingsberry after family and friends pooled money for his legal expenses, Kingsberry said.

Doran is being held at the New Hanover County jail without bond.

Harry Davis

Davis is charged in connection with a fire that was reported at 1901 Lingo St. just after 5 a.m., according to Wilmington Fire Department Battalion Chief David Hines. According to the indictments, five people–including the woman and teenager who died–were inside the home at the time of the fire.

Three women escaped the fire and were taken to the hospital with injuries that were not considered non-life-threatening. Fire investigators ruled the house fire was intentionally set, Hines said.

Davis was arrested the following day on unrelated charges. He was later charged in connection with the fatal fire, according to Wilmington Police Department Spokeswoman Cathryn Lindsay.

According to the N.C. Department of Corrections, Davis has been convicted of two misdemeanors and three felonies, including possession of a firearm by a felon, larceny, and breaking and entering. His most recent conviction was on the firearm charge in May 2012.

“One or more aggravating circumstances are present and it’s the State’s intention to seek the death penalty,” David said.

Capital public defenders Rick Miller and Kevin Peters are representing Davis.

Davis is being held at the New Hanover County jail without bond.

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Caroline Curran is the managing editor of Port City Daily. Reach her at (910) 772-6336 or caroline.c@portcitydaily.com.