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A Leland man’s death penalty trial gets under way Monday, March 4, in a Brunswick County courtroom.
Carl Henry Alston, 39, faces charges of felony murder, felony first-degree rape and felony first-degree kidnapping for the 2008 murder of 49-year-old Valerie Burns.
According to reports published in the Beacon in 2008, Burns’ body was found inside the trunk of her gray 1994 Buick Regal about 10 miles from her Bluff Drive residence in Leland on July 30, 2008. She had last been seen in downtown Wilmington on the night of July 29, 2008.
This is the first capital punishment case in Brunswick County since the 2006 trial of Darrell Wayne Maness. Maness was sentenced to death for the shooting death of Boiling Spring Lakes police officer Mitch Prince.
Alston was jailed on Sept. 4, 2008. He was indicted by a grand jury on Oct. 27, 2008, for his alleged role in Burns’ murder.
At 3:43 a.m. on July 30, 2008, the Brunswick County 911 Center received a call about a vehicle fire from a resident in the 300 block of Goodland Road in Leland. The car was on a dirt road just off Goodland Road in a residential area. When firefighters arrived the car was fully engulfed in flames.
Autopsy results determined Burns died of carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of the fire. The medical examiner said Burns was likely still alive when the vehicle fire was set.
Alston, 35 at the time of his arrest, lived less than 400 yards from where Burns’ body was found inside her burning car. He lived at 457 Colony Lane, Leland.
Alston had been released from the North Carolina Department of Corrections on June 22, 2008, after serving 14 months for possession of a schedule II controlled substance. Thirty-eight days later, Burns was dead.
Alston’s troubles with the law started well before his first period of incarceration and date back to 1989.
He was also incarcerated for nine months from May 2005 until February 2006 for felony breaking-and-entering vehicles.
He was incarcerated another two months in 2002 for misdemeanor larceny. He served one year and eight months for felony larceny and felony breaking-and-entering in 2002 and 2003 as well as nearly three months in 2000-2001 for possession of stolen goods.
In 1999, Alston served four months for misdemeanor assault on a female.
Alston served five years and five months from 1993-1998 for felony selling a schedule II controlled substance, larceny, felony receiving stolen goods and assault on a female.
In 1991 Alston served a little more than two months for larceny and manufacturing a schedule VI controlled substance.
Alston is represented by defense attorney Mike Ramos. The case is being prosecuted by district attorney Jon David and assistant district attorney Lee Bollinger. The trial is set to begin March 4 in Brunswick County Superior Court with the Honorable Robert Floyd as the presiding judge.
Rachel Johnson is a staff writer at The Brunswick Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or firstname.lastname@example.org.