Posted on July 6, 2012 at 6:56 AM
Friday, Jul 6 at 6:59 AM
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Mecklenburg prosecutors announced Thursday that they will seek the death penalty against 21-year-old Linny Barcliff, who’s accused in the 2011 triple slaying of a 4-year-old girl and her parents.
Prosecutors in Charlotte seldom put murder suspects on trial for their lives. But Thursday’s announcement didn’t catch Barcliff’s lawyer, Norman Butler, off guard.
“I can’t say I’m shocked or surprised considering the nature and circumstances of the allegations,” Butler told the Observer.
Prosecutors also announced that they would not seek the death penalty against 25-year-old Joseph Amous and 27-year-old Lorenzo White – who also are charged with murder in the triple slaying. The three men are accused of killing Lorenzo and Cheryl Graves and their daughter, Oznola, in the family’s south Charlotte apartment in August 2011.
The parents were found shot to death in front of their downstairs TV. They’d been shot in the head, according to documents. Oznola’s body was found near her parents’ bed. She’d been stabbed to death, relatives told the Observer.
Amous told investigators about the plan to rob Lorenzo Graves and that the girl and her parents were killed to get rid of witnesses, court documents reveal. The three men are each charged with three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of robbery with a dangerous weapon.
Assistant District Attorney Bill Stetzer, who heads the DA’s office’s homicide team, would not talk about why prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Barcliff and not against Amous and White.
“It would be improper to comment on those decisions while the cases are still pending,” the prosecutor said.
Court documents may provide some insight into the prosecutors’ decisions.
Lorenzo Graves’ mother, Mary Williams, called police last August and asked them to check on her son and family. She told authorities she had not heard from them in two days. The family wasn’t answering the phone or the door at their home in the Quail Run apartments, off Sharon Lakes Road near South Boulevard.
After the killings were discovered, detectives contacted Amous, who was a suspect in a break-in at the Graves’ apartment two months earlier, according to court documents.
Amous, who voluntarily came to police, admitted that Barcliff and White planned to rob Lorenzo Graves of drugs, money and guns, the documents say.
Amous told investigators that he met with Barcliff and White on Aug. 21, and the trio decided to carry out their plan that night. Amous said they talked about the possibility of having to shoot Lorenzo Graves because he had a gun, according to the documents.
Barcliff went to the Graves’ apartment alone, Amous said, under the pretext of buying drugs from Lorenzo Graves, the documents say. Barcliff later called White to tell him it was clear to come to the apartment. Amous told investigators that’s when Barcliff said he had killed the family, the court documents reveal. Barcliff told them after the killings, Amous said, that “he doesn’t leave any witnesses.”