MANTEO — Jurors in Mikel Brady’s first-degree murder trial listened Tuesday as more eyewitnesses testified about the day prison workers at Pasquotank Correctional Institution were beaten and stabbed — four fatally — during four inmates’ failed escape attempt on Oct. 12, 2017.
Inmate Mikel Brady is facing four murder charges and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against him. He is the first of four inmates charged with the gruesome killings and is being tried in Dare County Superior Court at the request of defense attorneys who sought a change of venue.
In addition to Brady, Wisezah Buckman, Seth Frazier and Jonathan Monk are alleged to have killed two correctional employees — Correction Enterprises Manager Veronica “Ronnie” Darden and Correctional Officer Justin Smith — and beat two others — Correctional Officer Wendy Shannon and maintenance mechanic Geoffrey Howe — so severely that they died several weeks later.
Many of the witnesses in Brady’s trial also are victims who were injured so severely that they can’t return to work.
Corrections Sgt. Curtis Casper testified Tuesday that he saw Shannon and Howe lying in an elevator after they were attacked and watched as other correctional staff tried to provide them first aid.
“Staff was taking off shirts trying to fill holes” in their bodies, he said.
Casper said he now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of what he saw at the prison that day.
Prison inmate Travis Kenton also testified that he witnessed the attack on Shannon. Now housed at a different prison, Kenton said he saw the four inmates and was going to ask them to help him remove some trash.
He said he noticed red splotches on one of the men’s clothes and thought it was dye. He recalls Shannon saying that maybe they had been painting.
Kenton testified he then saw Brady start hitting Shannon in the head with a hammer. When the hammer slid out of his hand, Kenton said he picked it up and sought to defend himself. He testified that Frazier then told him if he tried to defend himself, he would be killed.
Kenton testified he ran out of the area and saw a correctional officer, who he informed what had happened. He said he then ran outside and hid.
Later on Tuesday, 200 hours of video from cameras around the facility were entered into evidence. There was no camera in the elevator where Shannon and Howe were found.
Dave Trivillian, a digital forensic evidence expert described his work on a video interview of Brady. The problem, said Trivillian, was that there was background noise that made portions of the interview difficult to understand. By filtering the sound, he was able to make the audio portion much clearer.
That, too, was added into evidence.
Testimony in the trial resumes today.