Sampson County Sheriff's Office


Arrests Made in Homicide Earl Jeffrey Newton


Andre Pridgen

Brandon Rice

Christopher Smith, Jr.

Marquis Fleming

On Monday, September 10, 2007, around 0754 AM, deputies responded to 6935 Wildcat Road in regard to a "welfare check" on an individual that family members had not heard from in a while. The deputies discovered a body, in the advanced stages of decomposition, at the residence upon their arrival.

Investigators responded to the scene due to the unknown circumstances surrounding the death. The death was treated as a homicide from the outset, due to the condition of the body and the fact that it was an unwitnessed death. The body was transported to the State Medical Examiners Office in Chapel Hill for autopsy.

On September 11, 2007, the Sheriff's Office was notified by the Chief Medical Examiner's Office that the deceased was the apparent victim of a homicide. It was determined that the deceased had died from a gunshot wound.

The deceased was identified as Earl Jeffrey Newton, a 31 year old black male, of 6935 Wildcat Road, Harrells, NC. On September 18, 2007, investigators from the Sampson County Sheriff's Office arrested five males, of which one was a juvenile, for the murder of Earl Jeffrey Newton. The arrests were the result of tips from concerned citizens in the Harrells and Ivanhoe communities. The following individuals were charged in connection with the homicide:

1. Andre Romeriaz Pridgen, 17 year old, of 2714 Dr. Kerr Road, Ivanhoe, NC. Charges: Murder; Conspiracy to Commit Murder; Robbery With a Dangerous Weapon; and Conspiracy to Commit Robbery. Mr. Pridgen was placed in the Sampson County Detention Center without the privilege of bond.

2. Brandon Sabastian Rice, 19 year old, of 160 Pope Road, Rose Hill, NC. Charges: Murder; Conspiracy to Commit Murder; Robbery with a Dangerous Weapon; and Conspiracy to Commit Robbery. Mr. Rice was placed in the Sampson County Detention Center without the privilege of bond.

3. Marquis Fleming, 17 year old, of 329 W. Church Street, Rose Hill, NC. Charges: Conspiracy to Commit Murder and Conspiracy to Commit Robbery. Mr. Fleming was placed in the Sampson County Detention Center under a $500,000.00 bond.

4. Christopher Smith, Jr., 19 year old, of 3558 South Highway 11, Wallace, NC. Charges: Conspiracy to Commit Murder and Conspiracy to Commit Robbery. Mr. Smith was placed in the Sampson County Detention Center under a $500,000.00 bond.

5. A fifteen year old juvenile was turned over to the N.C. Department of Juvenile Justice under a "Secure Custody Order", in connection with the crimes.

Sheriff Jimmy Thornton stated, "The tips from concerned citizens were beneficial in identifying the suspects in this case. I think it sends a strong message that the citizens of the Harrells and Ivanhoe communities are not going to tolerate violence, and they will make sure that those who participate in violence are brought to justice. These arrests bring closure for the victim's family, however it brings an even deeper problem to the surface, young people committing such violent and haneous acts. Young people are becoming more and more desensitized to violence, and feel that they can get away with things. As a society we need to take a hard look at what's going on with our youth."