Home Crime S.C. teen, N.C. man charged in murder of Star store clerk

S.C. teen, N.C. man charged in murder of Star store clerk

James William Ward Jr. and an unnamed teen from South Carolina are charged with the June 25 robbery and murder of a store clerk in the Montgomery County town of Star.

STAR — Two people have been charged in the June 25 murder of a convenience store clerk in Montgomery County.

WGHP reported on July 12 that 57-year-old James William Ward Jr. and an unnamed 17-year-old have each been charged with first-degree murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon in the death of Laura Whitman.

Whitman, 53, was working at the Quik Check in Star when a suspect walked into the store just after 10 p.m. wearing a hood and a mask, brandished a gun and jumped over the counter before shooting her three times with a .22-caliber handgun, according to media reports.

WGHP reports that $96 was stolen.

Ward is suspected of being the driver, the station reports.

According to WGHP, Ward was arrested on Sunday by the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation. The teen, from Darlington, South Carolina, was arrested by police there on July 11. The station reports that the teen was already wanted on a charge of attempted murder for an incident on June 5. He will reportedly be transferred to Montgomery County to face charges.

Online court records show Ward, who was being held without bond, is scheduled to appear in court Aug. 21.

Ward was first convicted in 1981 of common law robbery in Guilford County, according to records with the N.C. Department of Public Safety.

In 1989, he was convicted of two counts each of possession with intent to sell a controlled substance and misdemeanor breaking and entering, and one count each of possession of a controlled substance and selling a controlled substance.


Ward was again convicted of common law robbery in 1991. While serving a sentence for that crime, he was convicted of felony breaking and entering and larceny in 1993.

In 1998, Ward was convicted in Wake County on misdemeanor charges of assault on a policeman and resisting a public officer.

Two years later, back in Guilford, he was convicted of possession of a Schedule II controlled substance and being a habitual felon.

Records show he served a total of 12 years and nine months in prison between 1981 and 2009.

All defendants facing criminal charges are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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