Two Wilmington teens charged with the death of a 16-year-old high school student in a drive-by shooting last week made their first appearance in New Hanover County District Court on Monday.
Tyrek Desmond Anderson, 17, and Deandre Nixon, 16, appeared in court on first-degree murder charges in connection with the death of Shane Simpson, who killed in a daytime gang-related shooting at the intersection of 11th and Castle streets on Sunday, Dec. 20.
District Court Judge Lindsay Luther ordered their bonds to remain at $9 million secured. District Attorney Ben David and Assistant District Attorney Timothy Severo were present in the courtroom Monday for the in-person court appearance of both murder suspects.
Nixon and Anderson were arrested in the days following the drive-by shooting that killed Simpson and injured four other teens, ages 15 to 17, at the corner of the Castle Street intersection at 11:40 a.m., according to Wilmington Police Department Spokeswoman Cathryn Lindsay. Simpson died at the scene while the other teens were taken to New Hanover Regional Medical Center for treatment. All four victims have since been released from the hospital.
The Wilmington Police Department attributed the arrests of Nixon and Anderson to multiple tips received from citizens following the shooting. According to Capt. Jim Varrone, some of the victims and suspects in the Castle Street shooting are validated gang members or have gang affiliation.
“We’re talking about very young people, both that were the victims of these crimes and the ones charged with these crimes. And in North Carolina we are one of two states where you’re considered an adult at the age of 16…and for that reason both of these young people who have been charged at this point are being tried as adults,” David said after their court appearances Monday. “Despite the young ages of those involved, these were very adult crimes that took place and we intend to hold them responsible as adults.”
David said that while the teens can be tried as an adult, the state cannot pursue the death penalty in the case since the defendants are under the age of 18.
Nixon has a pending marijuana possession charge in New Hanover County District Court. Anderson also has pending charges in New Hanover County including, second-degree trespassing, possession with intent to manufacture, sell or deliver a schedule I controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.
“Obviously it doesn’t get any more severe than first-degree murder, and particularly when you have what is a drive-by shooting with numerous other victims, we believe the multi-million dollar bond was appropriate in this case,” David said.
Members of the district attorney’s office were meeting with Shane Simpson’s family to go over the case after the defendants’ first appearances, David said.
“Obviously this is as bad as it gets, when you’re talking about the death of a young person, in broad daylight, and in a very public area of our community,” David said. “Needless to say, I know this is a case that has shocked the community. We are going to treat it with the appropriate seriousness as we have from the moment this occurred.”
David said his office continues to work on the case closely with the police department and additional charges may be forthcoming.
“We’re very pleased with the status [of the case] up to this point with the arrests and commend [the police department] for their hard work,” David said. “We regard today as an important first step in this process. And we look forward to working with both the Wilmington Police Department and the community to help solve this case.”
Luther appointed attorney Todd Fennell to represent Anderson in the case. Attorney Jason Minnicozzi is representing Nixon. Their cases are scheduled to be heard in New Hanover County District Court on Jan. 14, 2016.