Friday, December 12, 2008

Blue guilty of murder, rape of grandmother

James Junior Blu
By Stephanie S. Beecher
Thursday, December 11, 2008 12:04 PM EST

The Robesonian
LUMBERTON — A Maxton man accused of raping and killing his 69-year-old grandmother and stealing money from her to purchase drugs has been found guilty after an eight-day trial in Superior Court.

The sentencing of James Junior Blue, 34, who was convicted of first-degree murder, armed robbery and second-degree rape, begins today. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. The jury announced the verdict on Wednesday after it deliberated for five hours over two days.

Blue confessed to killing his maternal grandmother, Shirley Locklear, and stealing money to buy crack cocaine, in November 2005. His confession was presented during the trial, held before Judge Ola Lewis.

According to District Attorney Johnson Britt, the judge granted a jury request on Wednesday to review a nine-page, detailed statement in which Blue confessed to the crime.

Other pieces of evidence requested for review by the jury included a photograph of the room where Locklear died, a cooking pot used in the beating, and the testimony of one defense witness.

Britt said the jury also reviewed a videotape of former sheriff’s Lt. Ricky Britt sitting beside Blue at the Sheriff’s Office reading the nine-page statement aloud.

The jury first watched the tape on Monday.

In the videotape, recorded the day Blue took deputies and family members to his grandmother’s body, Blue acknowledges his actions.

“I lied,” Blue is heard saying on the videotape. “I hurt my whole family. All I wanted was cocaine.”

He also talked about thinking of killing his grandmother beforehand — moments when he indulged in crack cocaine, drank alcohol and contemplated whether or not “the crack was worth killing my grandmother for.”

According to sheriff’s reports, on Nov. 6, 2005, Blue used a piece of wood to bludgeon his grandmother as she sat in the living room, and then assaulted her with a cooking pot. He then used a cord to strangle her before dragging her body to the kitchen, where she was raped.

Blue then wrapped her body in a tarp, then a comforter and used his mother’s car to dispose of her body in a ditch two miles from his Alford Road home.

Family members filed a missing person’s report the next day when Locklear failed to attend a birthday party. Authorities said Blue attended the party and left when his family began questioning him about his grandmother’s whereabouts.

Two days later, Blue led deputies to the body.

As the video played on Monday, Blue sat motionless with his head hung down and his eyes closed. Several family members sat somberly behind Blue, watching the video replay the gruesome details.

In a letter mailed to The Robesonian from his jail cell, Blue stated that he has his family’s support.

Blue wrote that the real issues lie with “the drug dealers who are the ones behind the problems like mine.”

The trial began on Dec. 1.

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