Murder and mayhem in 2013

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The year in crime was a sad one in Brunswick County, where in two separate cases a man was indicted in the death of a young boy in his care. The cases of three other people charged in three unrelated deaths concluded in court. The vandalism of a nightclub with racist and sexist profanity rattled many residents in 2013, which ended with the arrest of a man accused of killing an Ash man in his home.


March 8: A Brunswick County man escaped the death penalty by admitting to killing a Leland woman in 2008.

Carl Alston, 39, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, first-degree rape and first-degree kidnapping in the death of Valerie Burns, 49. Burns died July 29, 2008, of carbon monoxide poisoning after Alston put her naked in the trunk of her car and set it on fire in the Snowfield area near his home.

Alston accepted a plea deal, which was reached with the blessing of Burns’ family, on what was to have been the third day of jury selection in his trial. If convicted, he faced the death penalty.

Alston was automatically sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for pleading guilty to the first-degree murder charge. Brunswick County Superior Court judge Robert Floyd sentenced Alston to three sentences to run consecutively. Alston received a minimum of 40 years and a maximum of 48.75 years for the charge of first-degree rape and a minimum of 14 years to a maximum of 17.58 years for the charge of first-degree kidnapping.


April 12: A 69-year-old Sunset Beach woman was sentenced to more than a year in jail and up to five years of probation for fatal crash two years earlier in which her blood-alcohol content was nearly four times the legal limit.

Brenda Chapman Tew pleaded guilty to felony death by vehicle and felony serious injury by vehicle in the April 15, 2011, crash on N.C. 179 that killed 83-year-old Betty Grace Grabb and injured her husband of 63 years, Robert Grabb, of Ocean Isle Beach. As part of the plea arrangement, prosecutors agreed to dismiss charges of driving while under the influence and driving left of center.

Superior Court Judge Jack Hooks handed down a suspended sentence of up to 60 months’ supervised probation with an electronic house arrest ankle bracelet on the felony serious injury charge Tew faced. He allowed her to travel to medical treatments, rehabilitation and AA meetings and forbade her to use, possess, control or reside in a location where alcoholic beverages are present. She also had to surrender her license and pay $600 in restitution to the SBI lab.

On the felony death by vehicle charge, Tew received an active sentence of 13 to 16 months during which the suspended probation was suspended. She also had to pay $1,000 in restitution to the court.


Aug. 5: Montey Andrea Murray was indicted on first-degree murder and felony child abuse charges in the 2012 death of 3-year-old Jaronn Ladale McAllister.

The grand jury’s indictment came more than a year after the Shallotte boy died of injuries he suffered while in Murray’s care.

Murray and his cousin, Jesse Lamont Holt, were babysitting Jaronn at apartment 207 on 12 Paisley Drive while Jaronn’s mother and Murray’s girlfriend, Candice Young, was at work Feb. 29, 2012, court records show.

The next morning, Murray had a neighbor drive him and Jaronn to Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center, where about 15 minutes later, at 9:31 a.m., Jaronn was pronounced dead. Murray then jumped into Young’s SUV and led officers on a high-speed chase down U.S. 17, ramming two Brunswick County sheriff’s deputies’ vehicles before he was caught, reports show.

Murray was arrested and charged with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon on a government official and felony flee/elude arrest with a motor vehicle, drive/allow motor vehicle with no registration, cancel/revoke/suspended certification/tag, reckless driving — wanton disregard, operate vehicle with no insurance, failure to surrender title/registration card/tag, misdemeanor resisting public officer, failure to wear seat belt-driver, expired/no inspection, driving while license revoked, reckless driving to endanger and hit/run failure to stop with property damage.

He was incarcerated in the Brunswick County Jail on $1 million bail, which later that month was reduced to $115,000. He remains in jail.


Aug. 16: Randy Lee Richardson II was indicted on a charge of felony child abuse inflicting serious injury in the death of his 4-month-old son, Colton Richardson.

Richardson, who was indicted on a charge of first-degree murder in the case July 1, is accused of repeatedly shaking the baby, resulting in his injury and death. 

Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office and 911 documents indicate Colton was injured May 29. According to his obituary, he died June 2.

His 19-year-old father, of 1515 Pelican Place in Shallotte, was arrested June 5.

That same day, during Richardson’s first court appearance, District Court Judge Marion Warren ordered him held without bail and said he could face the death penalty if he is convicted of first-degree murder.

Richardson’s bail was reduced to $500,000 on June 24, but he remains in custody at the jail.


Aug. 30: Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office deputies were looking for the person who spray-painted racial epithets and profanity on every exterior wall of Remedy’s Lounge.

The vandal also broke several windows and cut the wires to the television satellite at the bar on Holden Beach Road in Shallotte.

The owner of the bar, who did not give her name out of fear of retaliation against her family, said she left Remedy’s at 2:55 a.m. Friday. At 5:20 a.m., she received a text message from a friend who had driven past the bar, which she has owned since April 20.

Previous owner Randal Brown said he has built a close relationship with the current owner because he feels “fatherly” toward his former business, which used to be called Good Times Lounge.

The graffiti on the building included derogatory words for women and African Americans. Both the current owner of the bar and Brown are white.


Dec. 3: The North Carolina Court of Appeals has upheld the second-degree murder conviction of a man who killed an Oak Island mother of three in a drunken driving crash in Southport three years ago.

Daniel Brennick, 26, was convicted of second-degree murder by a Brunswick County jury Nov. 30, 2012. He also was convicted of felony death by motor vehicle and driving while impaired.

The appeals court upheld his murder conviction in the death of 38-year-old Satu Harris on Dec. 3, according to a news release from the District Attorney’s Office.

On May 7, 2010, Brennick left Duffer’s Pub and Grill at Oak Island Golf Club in his pickup truck after someone offered to call him a taxi and after one of the bar employees also offered to take him home and return him to his car in the morning, according to the release.

Several motorists called 911 to report seeing Brennick driving erratically, cutting through parking lots and running other vehicles off the road, including an ambulance. That same ambulance responded to Brennick’s crash scene about 11 p.m. on N.C. 133 where his truck collided head-on with Harris’ Nissan sedan.

Brennick is due to be released from the N.C. Department of Correction on Sept. 1, 2030.


Dec. 18: A 27-year-old Ash man is accused of using the stock of a .410-gauge shotgun to kill a man whose home he had broken into and stolen from in the past.

Thomas Jason Holland of Babson Road NW is charged with first-degree murder in the Dec. 13 death of 69-year-old Tony Kusta of Ash.

Investigators believe Holland forced his way into Kusta’s home and then, during the struggle, struck Kusta in the head with the stock of Kusta’s shotgun, Sheriff John Ingram said.

Holland was arrested Dec. 15 on multiple charges, including breaking and entering and larceny in several break-ins that occurred throughout December, including one at Kusta’s home. He had been in custody at the Brunswick County Detention Facility since that time and now is being held without bond.