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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) – A number of defense motions
delayed the jury selection process for a murder case in New Hanover County
Davis Ray Belton is charged with the first-degree murder of his
wife, Diane, in September 2011. Belton called 911 to report that he accidentally shot his wife in the back of the head. He indicated on the call that he shot her the day before, but he couldn't explain coherently on the phone why he waited a day to call authorities.
Nearly a year after the incident, Belton's trial began with motions regarding evidence added to or kept from the case.
Chief Public Defender Jennifer Harjo, representing Belton,
said that an audio recording of Belton's comments in a Wilmington police car
should have been submitted for evidence. The words expressed by Belton in that
time show him as cooperating with law enforcement and remorse for what had happened,
according to Harjo.
Assistant District Attorney Lillian Salcines Bright informed
the court of the problem with the recording. The officer driving the cruiser
failed to properly download and transfer the recording. Instead, the officer
signed a sworn statement of what he remembers from Belton's ride to the police
Judge Doug Parsons said there was no intention of omitting
the evidence, so there was no need to impose any sanctions. He denied the
motion, along with others involving the timing of evidence submitted for the
When asked if he understood what was happening
in regards to his case, Belton told the judge he did.
"My mental condition is fine,
but I relive it every day," he said.
Belton's lawyers also
objected to all evidence from witnesses who would to speak to the character of
Belton. Those eight witnesses, who include the victim's children, will have to
testify before a judge before they're allowed to speak in front of a jury.
Jury selection will begin Tuesday morning, followed by the
testimony screening process. An early estimate by both sides has the trial
ending before Wednesday of next week at the latest.
Copyright 2012 WECT. All rights reserved.