Plea hearing scheduled Feb. 20 in 2016 fatal Shallotte crash

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By Lindsay Kriz

    A Carolina Shores teen facing charges in a Shallotte crash that killed his 13-year-old friend and injured his 16-year-old brother in February 2016 is scheduled to enter a plea in Brunswick County Court on Monday, Feb. 20, according to the District Attorney’s Office.


Devin Keither Harris, now 19, was indicted March 14 by a grand jury on a manslaughter charge in the crash weeks after returning true bills of indictment on charges of misdemeanor death by motor vehicle, reckless driving, speeding, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and no operator’s license.

Among the conditions for Harris’ release from jail following the indictment were that he wear an electronic monitoring device and limit his travels from home to work, doctor’s and lawyer’s appointments, Assistant District Attorney Jamie Turnage, who is prosecuting the case, said previously.

Harris is accused of violating that condition April 3 and was arrested on a charge of interfering with an electronic monitoring device April 4. A grand jury indicted him on the charge July 25. He is being held at the Brunswick County Detention Facility on $2 million bail.

Investigators said Harris was driving a blue 2007 four-door Honda Accord belonging to Caleb Smith’s parents at 61 mph toward N.C. 130/Whiteville Road when the crash occurred about 4 a.m. Feb. 11, 2016. The car veered toward the left side of the Bridger Road bridge over Mulberry Branch creek, struck the corner and plunged into about seven feet of water.

Smith, of Carolina Shores, died at the scene of blunt force trauma he suffered in the crash, then-Brunswick County Coroner Greg White said previously.

Both Harris and his brother, Justice William Harris, underwent surgery for their injuries at New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington and were later released.

Devin Harris was arrested upon his Feb. 14, 2016, release from the hospital on a charge of misdemeanor death by motor vehicle filed by Shallotte police. He was released from the New Hanover County Detention Facility that day on $5,000 bail.

Shallotte police arrested Devin Harris again Feb. 29 and charged him with reckless driving with wanton disregard, speeding, no operator’s license and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, warrants show. He was released from the Brunswick County jail the same day on $2,000 bail.

Justice Harris, now 17, later was arrested and charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, as statutory language includes anyone who willfully takes or operates a vehicle of someone else without his permission, Turnage said. He was booked at Brunswick County jail April 8 and released the same day on a $1,000 bail, records show. His next court date was not available at press time.

A woman who lives near the bridge called 911 about 4 a.m. to report she’d heard tires squealing and what sounded like a crash at the bridge. Police, along with Shallotte firefighters and sheriff’s deputies, pulled the teens from the wreckage, Shallotte Police Chief Rodney Gause said in a previous interview.

Shallotte police Detective Sgt. John Holman said police could not comment on where Smith and Justice Harris had been sitting in the car or whether any of the three teens had been wearing seat belts.

North Carolina State Highway Patrol troopers, along with police, reconstructed the crash and used measurements to determine how fast Devin Harris had been driving on Bridger Road, where the speed limit is 35 mph.

Devin Harris also faces unrelated breaking and entering and larceny charges stemming from incidents in May 2015. He faces three felony second-degree burglary, three felony counts of larceny after breaking and entering, three felony counts of felony breaking or entering a motor vehicle and three counts of misdemeanor larceny.

The three second-degree felony larceny after breaking and entering charges stem from three separate Carolina Shores break-ins between May 1-15, 2015. Warrants show Devin Harris broke into a home in the 100 block of Cobbler Circle and stole a Harley-Davidson beer mug, money and two 100 mg Viagra pills worth an estimated $175 on May 1, 2015. Warrants show Devin Harris broke into a home in the 400 block of Slippery Rock and stole a 16 GB iPod Touch worth an estimated $100 on May 13, 2015.

Warrants show Devin Harris broke into a home in the 100 block of Carolina Farm Boulevard and stole an 18-pack of Michelob Ultra beer and a 12-pack of Coca Cola, worth a total of $24, before breaking into a 2008 Ford Explorer on the property and stealing coral sunglasses worth an estimated $20 on May 15, 2015. He faces a felony charge of breaking or entering a motor vehicle and misdemeanor larceny in the case.

Devin Harris faces two additional felony charges of breaking or entering a motor vehicle and two misdemeanor charges of larceny. Warrants show he broke into a 2008 Honda CRV and stole Coach sunglasses and a Surefire flashlight, worth an estimated $270 and broke into a 2005 Honda CRV and stole two portable DVD players worth $200 and $2 in loose change May 8, 2015.

The warrants, which were issued June 15, 2015, do not list his arrest date on the charges.

The District Attorney’s Office is not releasing any further information because the cases are pending.


Lindsay Kriz is a staff writerfor the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or email lkriz@brunswickbeacon.com.