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The first of three defendants in a triple-murder case admitted his role in the crime Thursday that happened three years ago in a south Charlotte apartment.
A mother, father and their 4-year-old daughter were killed in August 2011.
Joseph Amous pleaded guilty to two counts of accessory after the fact to murder and one count of conspiracy to commit robbery in the deaths of Lorenzo and Cheryl Graves and their daughter.
The prosecutor said Amous was not present when the Graves were killed but that he helped plan to rob Graves of drugs and money and then covered up the murders afterward.
That coverup began soon after the murders when the prosecutor said Amous went to the apartment and saw the bodies of Lorenzo and Cheryl Graves but didn’t call police.
That was new information to Graves’ brother who thought he had heard all of the details.
“He had a chance to save my niece. He couldn't save my brother and sister-in-law but he could have said 'let me call somebody,'” said Kenneth Graves.
Amous’ co-defendants, Lorenzo White and Linny Barcliff, have yet to go to trial in the case. Barcliff is facing the death penalty since prosecutors said he actually killed the family.
Amous agreed to testify against the others and is facing at least 15 years in prison but won’t be formally sentenced until their cases are complete.
And for the victims’ family, the waiting goes on.
“It's even going to be even worse now that we have to be put through this-- going through a murder all over again,” Graves said.
“It is tough because to me, it didn't take them three years to go in and kill them. We've been going through agony all over again. I'll be so glad when it's over,” said Kim Williams, Cheryl Graves’ sister.Thu, 24 Apr 2014 17:55:06 -0400
A decades-old Shelby cold case is getting new attention after the horrific shootings at two Jewish centers near Kansas City earlier this month.
The Cleveland County Sheriff said he may send detectives to Kansas to interview suspect Glenn Miller about a triple homicide that happened in Shelby in 1987.
Dianna Melton's brother, Travis Melton, was one of three men who were shot and killed in January 1987 at a Shelby adult bookstore that used to be along Highway 74.
Investigators said the store was frequented by gay men and the murders were deemed hate crimes.
"I would like to know (who did it) because they demolished my family," Melton said. "They destroyed it. My mom and daddy were never the same again."
Cleveland County Sheriff Office investigators said they want to talk with Miller, who later went by Frazier Glenn Cross.
He is a known white supremacist and founder of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Miller is charged with the murders of three people at Jewish centers in Kansas City this month.
In 1989, he testified as a prosecution witness in the Shelby triple-homicide trial.
"It was a hideous crime," Sheriff Alan Norman said. "There was life that was lost and one life too many."
Melton said she was in the courtroom and saw Miller testify against defendant Douglas Sheets.
Sheets was acquitted and a second man charged had his case dismissed.
Miller was never charged but Melton hopes he will help detectives solve the case.
"I think Mr. Miller is going to tell the truth this time," Melton said. "He really is because he doesn't have a choice."
Norman said Thursday his team discussed the case and whether to send Cleveland County detectives to Kansas to interview Miller.
Melton said her brother, who was just 19 when he was killed, was a goofy prankster when his life was cut short.
"Whoever did this should be punished," Melton said.
See more national news stories by clicking here.Thu, 24 Apr 2014 17:31:58 -0400
A serious warning from police: A new, purer and more potent form of heroin is hitting the Charlotte area.
It's called China White and officers worry it will spread just like black tar heroin, leaving a trail of overdoses and deaths.
At a secret meeting spot, an Eyewitness News crew prepped with officers on an undercover operation they've been working for months involving China White heroin.
“I'm afraid like black tar heroin it's going to slowly spread through the whole county,” said one officer.
With money in hand, the undercover officer met a suspected dealer at a Midland gas station to place his order.
Channel 9 watched as the woman got out of her truck and leaned against the officer’s vehicle, reach inside and then put the cash in her pocket.
She said she had to pick up the heroin and would deliver it later.
Channel 9 trailed her with undercover officers in unmarked cars, as she traveled down Highway 24/27 toward Charlotte.
When she stopped at a fast food restaurant, Channel 9 caught sight of a passenger, who Eyewitness News later learned was her 5-year-old son.
Hours later, the woman returned to the gas station and hopped into the undercover officer’s truck. Channel 9 listened in on a recording device as she told the officer how to cut and package the China White heroin.
Looking to build the case against her, officers held off on making an arrest.
Detectives showed the two and a-half grams they bought, some of it packaged with Batman stickers.
Two days later, detectives planned another China White heroin buy from the same woman.
This time, the undercover officer rode with her to make the purchase. He was able to alert the crews that her son was again with her and so was her friend.
In undercover vehicles, the crew tailed the truck from Midland to uptown Charlotte.
In front of the criminal courthouse, the woman picked up a man that police said is her supplier of heroin.
They drove to north Charlotte, where police said he went inside a house to get the China White heroin.
Police would later search the home with a drug sniffing dog and confiscate about $6,000 in cash.
When the group got to a University City gas station, the undercover officer signaled to detectives they had 5 grams of heroin in hand, enough to pursue felony trafficking charges.
Officers decided it was time to move in.
The little boy didn't see all of this. He and his mother had gone into the store moments before the bust.
As soon as they walked out, officers pulled her aside, searched her bag.
Channel 9 learned the woman is Tammy Hollar, a 31-year-old mother of two. Channel 9 asked about her about dealing and using heroin with son present.
“Yes, I snorted a little bit,” she said. “A little chunk. A little teeny, tiny crumb. I told you I’m dumb right now.”
Hollar told detectives some of the China White heroin belonged to her friend, Samantha Pennington, who officers said was shooting up in the gas station bathroom with a syringe.
The man accused of supplying the drug was 35-year-old Allen Ford.
Channel 9 dug into Ford's criminal past and found multiple arrests on drugs, weapon and assault charges.
Because China White is more powerful than black tar heroin, Cabarrus County Sheriff Brad Riley said it's already proving dangerous.
“I am concerned. I'm very concerned. With overdoses and close calls in our community already,” Riley said.
The sheriff wants to make people realize they can help stop China White heroin from spreading any more.
“They have to keep communicating with us. With their eyes and their ears we are a force multiplier,” Riley said.
Information could be key in getting drugs like China White off the streets and preventing innocent people from getting caught in the middle.
Local, state and even federal agencies worked together in that video you saw.
Hollar is facing several felony charges.
Officers contacted the department of social services about her two children.