ROCKINGHAM — A judge has signed off on the state’s request to seek the death penalty against a Rockingham man accused of killing a teenager.
Presiding Superior Court Judge Jonathan Perry on Monday issued an order for the case against Joseph Ray Carroll to proceed as a first-degree capital murder case.
Carroll is charged in the January death of 15-year-old Casey Johnson.
According to court documents, officers with the Rockingham Police Department responded to a call of an unresponsive juvenile at Carroll’s Biggs Boulevard home on Jan. 20.
Documents show officers first administered Narcan to Johnson thinking it was a possible overdose and chest compressions were continued until EMS arrived on scene.
A responding officer then contacted a detective saying Johnson was unresponsive and appeared to have been beaten, according to an application for a search warrant.
Johnson was sent to UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill where he was pronounced brain dead. He died Jan. 23.
According to court documents, Johnson’s injuries were similar to if he had been in a vehicle crash.
Documents reveal that police learned during interviews of methods of punishment for members of the household and that Carroll would sometimes record those punishments.
Documents also state that Carroll was a convicted felon and not allowed to possess firearms. Carroll has no prior convictions in North Carolina, state records show.
Police were granted search warrants and seized, among other items, two cellphones, and several cameras, flash drives, voice recorders; a weighted vest; boxing equipment; several belts and ropes; a composition book and journal; a silver chain with a lock; and various firearm boxes, ammunition and other gun accessories.
Carroll was initially indicted by a grand jury on Feb. 15, four days after he was arrested, for the murder of Johnson. He was indicted again on March 15 to correct a typographical error in his name, documents show.
The Capital Defender’s Office has appointed Richard Culler of Lumberton to represent Carroll.
The judge’s March 15 order allows for the appointment of second counsel.
The order also states that the defendant reserves the right to file pretrial motions that might otherwise be affected by the date of arraignment; as well as the right to object to either the form or substance of the hearing.
Assistant District Attorney Patrick McCrary represented the state in Monday’s hearing.
Casey Johnson’s mother, Michelle Johnson, is also charged with an open count of murder in the case. She was arrested Feb. 18.
All defendants facing criminal charges are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.