In an effort to show jurors on Monday that Cobey Wade Lakemper was on a multi-state crime spree in 2005 when he allegedly shot hotel clerk Wendy Cartledge-Carter, Newton County District Attorney Layla Zon presented witnesses from North Carolina who testified about the murders of an elderly couple.
The first witness to take the stand told jurors that his home was robbed on July 28, 2005 and his loaded, 9 mm Ruger semi-automatic had been stolen. He was able to compare his receipt from the purchase of that gun and the serial number on it to the one in state's evidence that has been linked to the bullet that was removed from Cartledge-Carter, as well as the bullets removed from the bodies of the elderly couple in North Carolina, William and Joyce Covington. He also said that a book of checks had been stolen and one had been made out to Lakemper.
The Covington's daughter Denise told jurors about finding her parents dead in their rural North Carolina home on Aug. 7, 2005. William was 72 and Joyce 65 when they were killed. Joyce would have celebrated her 66th birthday on Aug. 18, the same day as Cartledge-Carter.
"When I got inside the kitchen I noticed the doors to the dining room were shut, which they never did," she said. "I pushed open the door and I saw Daddy. He was leaning up against the corner cupboard and Mama was laying down on the floor."
She said that she talked to them as she ran to the kitchen to call for help, but while the base to the cordless phone was there, the phone was nowhere to be found. In fact, the phone has yet to be found.
"I ran back and told Mama I was going for help and that I'd be right back," she said, crying. "When I took her hand, she was cold."
As Denise testified, her daughter Sara, along with Cartledge-Carter's son's Doug, Dustin and Dylan, cried. Lakemper sat quietly at the defense table, occasionally looking through papers or writing.
Authorities from the Stokes County Sheriff's Office and the North Carolina State Investigation Bureau testified that the Covington's home was not ransacked and, with the exception of the dining room, there didn't seem to be a lot of disarray.
However, the phone lines to the home had been cut on the outside of the house and a flower bed had been trampled. William had been shot twice - once on each side, and Joyce once. Both had been shot in a similar fashion to Cartledge-Carter.
Joyce's debit card had also been used a few miles away at a convenience store.
Jason Tuttle, then a detective with the Stoke's County Sheriff's Office, testified that the investigation was "extensive" and that Lakemper was named as a suspect on Aug. 18, the same day Cartledge-Carter was shot.
Tuttle said they found out Lakemper had been captured inside a bar called The Cotton Patch by U.S. Marshals on Aug. 25 and they flew to Tennessee to arrest him on murder charges. During a search of the vehicle he had been driving, they found the pistol in a book bag with eight rounds inside, along with several items that had the names of people on them that lived in various parts of Tennessee.
Testimony will continue today in the state's case against Lakemper.