A Wallace man will be tried for his life in the November 2014 slaying of a state’s key witness in Duplin County.
The state’s case against 37-year-old Nashid Porter will be pursued capitally following a Rule 24 hearing in Duplin County Superior Court on Thursday, according to District Attorney Ernie Lee, of North Carolina’s Fourth Judicial District, which includes Duplin, Onslow, Jones and Sampson counties.
The Duplin County case was declared capital in the first-degree murder of 27-year-old Obediah Hester IV, in that there is least one potential aggregating circumstance exists in the case pursuant to state law, Lee added. Along with the first-degree murder charge, Porter faces additional charges of possession of a firearm by a felon and discharging a weapon into occupied property causing serious bodily injury in Duplin County Superior Court, according to court records.
Hester was found dead near an abandoned trailer on Wards Road in Wallace on Nov. 14, 2014, just two months before he was set to take the stand as a state’s witness in Porter’s first-degree murder trial in the July 2012 fatal shooting of 32-year-old Brian Theodus Grant in Wilmington. Porter was out on pre-trial release at the time of Hester’s death, and was arrested by U.S. Marshals days later on a charge of first-degree murder. Prosecutors say Hester was a key witness for the state in Grant’s murder.
Hester was shot 11 times, but the ultimate cause of his death was ruled to be from a blow to the head by a cinder block, according to Duplin County investigators. But before he was shot, Hester provided videotaped testimony in the Grant case, which prosecutors are seeking to introduce as evidence during Porter’s first-degree murder trial in the July 2012 killing on May 31.
The 2012 case has since been moved from New Hanover County to Pender County, after a judge granted a defense motion to change venue. The May trial date is the third trial date scheduled in the case, which has been delayed several times since Hester’s death.
Porter has rejected a plea deal in both first-degree murder cases. In that deal, the State required Porter to plead guilty to both murder cases in exchange for two life sentences without the possibility of parole, according to Assistant District Attorney Connie Jordan, a prosecutor for the 2012 murder case.
Porter is scheduled for a March hearing in Wilmington, where a judge will hear any outstanding motions in preparation for the trial in Pender County Superior Court at the end of May, according to Samantha Dooies, assistant to District Attorney Ben David. The judge will also address some representation issues with Porter’s attorney, Chief Public Defender Jennifer Harjo. Harjo is the second attorney to represent Porter in the 2012 murder case.
Porter is currently being held at the New Hanover County Jail without bond.
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