Arrests Made in Homicide Earl Jeffrey Newton
Christopher Smith, Jr.
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
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
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."