Jury began deliberating Wednesday in death of Tony Antwane Daye Jr.; sentencing scheduled for Friday, June 15
GRAHAM — The jury in the murder trial in the Memorial Day 2016 killing of Tony Antwane Daye Jr., 21, found both defendants guilty Thursday, June 14, of first-degree murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon after a day of deliberations.
Khakim Malik Harvey, 22, of 213 Kernodle Drive, Burlington, and Kyle Lavar McNeil, 20, of 317 Fulton St., Burlington, were convicted of conspiring with two women to get Daye and surviving victim Joshua Sims into the Burlington City Park to rob them. Their trial started May 2, and jurors started hearing testimony May 21. Sentencing will be Friday, June 15.
Cooperating witnesses Brittany Nicole Slade, 24, and Akayzee Kareona Wright, 19, testified early in the trial to luring Daye and Sims into the bathroom with the promise of sex so Harvey and McNeil could rob them. Daye was shot five times outside the women’s bathroom near the Jimmy Combs Pavilion shortly after 11 p.m. May 30, 2016.
Wright and Slade both testified that the defendants targeted Daye early May 30, 2016, after hearing the alleged marijuana dealer had a lot of cash, but were not able to pull off their first efforts. Later they made a plan to rob a convenience store on Apple Street, but changed their minds after seeing police in the area and then hatched the plan to set up Daye and Sims in the park.
As cooperating witnesses, Slade and Wright had murder charges against them dropped, but they face as long as nine years on the robbery charges.
Daye and Wright exchanged numbers the afternoon of May 30, when the four of them met him and Sims at an Ireland Street convenience store. That meeting was one effort to set Daye up for a robbery, Slade testified. While it didn’t go forward, text messages entered into evidence showed Wright had been flirting with Daye all day and, at McNeil’s direction, got him to meet her at the park at 10:56 p.m., telling him she wanted to trade sex for marijuana and “gas money.”
Slade drove Wright, McNeil and Harvey to the park that night, arriving minutes before Daye and Sims. McNeil and Harvey walked into the park and hid in the dark. When Daye and Sims arrived, the women led them to the bathrooms by the pavilion as Slade texted back and forth with Harvey the whole way.
“It’s a go,” she sent at 11:06 p.m. to which he responded, “Don’t be by them — we’re about to come in.”
A surveillance camera on the pavilion caught two figures witnesses identified as Harvey and McNeil hiding behind pavilion supports watching the bathroom. A 911 dispatcher monitoring that video feed saw them and that one of them had a gun, and notified police.
Sims testified that he and Daye had been getting frustrated with the women’s stalling and were about to leave when they heard sirens. When Daye walked out the bathroom door, five shots rang out. In the 35 seconds that followed, according to prosecutor Corey Santos, McNeil walked into the bathroom, pointed a pistol at Sims and pulled the trigger, but the gun jammed. Sims pushed past McNeil and ran out of the bathroom. McNeil followed, firing one or two shots after him, and Sims ran into the police on Overbrook Road.
Slade went back to her car and drove away, but police stopped her at a convenience store on South Church Street. Wright walked up to Slade’s car soon after and also was detained.
Both women would incriminate themselves to police in several interviews, though neither was completely honest at first.
Harvey was arrested Wednesday, June 1, 2016, but McNeil was hiding out at a girlfriend’s apartment in Greensboro for more than a week. U.S. marshals arrested him June 8 after he barricaded himself in his girlfriend’s apartment.
One thing jurors never heard about was gang affiliation. When jurors weren’t in the courtroom, Santos said both defendants were Bloods, but both sides agreed to keep it out of the court record to avoid prejudicing the jury and causing a mistrial.
Defense attorneys Thomas Johnson and Robert Broadie mostly attacked the credibility of the witnesses, the reliability of the surveillance recording system and the lack of fingerprint evidence or DNA linking their clients to the scene.
A last-minute effort for Harvey to enter a self-defense plea was rejected by Superior Court Judge Tom Lambeth earlier this week since it was not filed at the time the trial was scheduled as North Carolina law requires, and was an obvious tactical move on Harvey’s part. There was no evidence to support the theory.
Reporter Isaac Groves can be reached at email@example.com or 336-506-3045. Follow him on Twitter at @tnigroves.