MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. -- The three teenagers, their wrists cuffed and ankles shackled, entered the Mecklenburg courtroom Thursday one at a time.
Aveance Bryant, Davonta Turner and Ashley Owens – each charged with murder – did not speak to the judge during their first court appearances.
Bryant, Turner and Owens are accused of killing Michael Victor Shull last Friday. The deaf 21-year-old Conover man was stabbed to death.
Mecklenburg District Judge Donnie Hoover on Thursday set dates in January for bond hearings and probable cause hearings for the three teens. He appointed public defenders for them.
But Hoover told each teenager that he would not set a bond on the murder charge.
Each of the hearings lasted less than a minute.
Bryant, 18, Turner, 18, and Owens, 19, are being held without bond at the Mecklenburg jail.
About a dozen family members and friends of Owens’ attended Thursday’s hearings. They didn’t want to speak to reporters as they left the courtroom. One woman sobbed as she left.
Owens’ pastor, when asked who was among the family and friends, described the group only as “people who love Ashley.”
The three teenagers are charged with first-degree murder, according to court documents. Each is also charged with armed robbery and conspiracy to commit armed robbery.
Turner and Owens have criminal records.
Turner was convicted of possession of marijuana in 2012. He was convicted of breaking or entering a motor vehicle in 2011. Owens was convicted in 2012 with solicitation for prostitution. She was convicted of breaking and entering in 2011.
The victim’s father, Clif Shull, has said police told him his son was stabbed during a robbery attempt. He said police told him that two of the suspects – Bryant and Turner – are related to the victim’s girlfriend and that his son interacted with the three murder suspects while he was visiting his girlfriend in Charlotte.
“People need to know it’s not something that just happened,” Clif Shull told the Observer after his son’s killing. “It was totally set up. … They took advantage of his generosity and trust.”
Clif Shull said police were “very adamant” that his son’s girlfriend did not know anything about the conspiracy to commit robbery that led to the fatal stabbing.
Michael Shull, who was born deaf and was the youngest of four children, met his girlfriend at the N.C. School for the Deaf in Morganton, his father said. Michael Shull graduated from the school in 2011.
After getting off work on the evening of Dec. 21, Michael Shull drove his father’s vehicle to Charlotte to visit his girlfriend, Clif Shull said. Michael Shull and his girlfriend had planned to see Christmas lights with his family over the weekend.
Police were dispatched to the 1800 block of Crestdale Drive just after 10 p.m. Someone had called about a car parked in the road. The quiet road is in Lincoln Heights. That’s the neighborhood where Michael Shull’s girlfriend lives.
Officers found the car unoccupied. Michael Shull was lying in a nearby yard.
Police told the Shulls that the suspects showed them where they dropped Michael Shull’s wallet as well as the knife used to stab him, Clif Shull said.
Clif Shull described his son as a generous man who was eager to help those in need.
“He was an extremely giving person and he trusted everybody,” the father said. “He was well loved.”
But Clif Shull said he was concerned about his son.
“I worried about his safety ever since he was born,” the father said. “He’s always been a concern. He’s very independent, but he’s very dependent, too. He was trying so hard to make his way.”