Charles Bond was sentenced to death by the State of North Carolina for ordering the murder of Wayne Thomas. According to court documents Charles Bond ordered 16-year-old Theola Saunders to murder Wayne Thomas. The teen killer would abduct Wayne Thomas and his sister and would fatally shoot Wayne Thomas the next day. Charles Bond who was in a hospital when the murder took place would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death
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In what could be a precedent-setting decision, Charles P. Bond was sentenced Thursday to die for the shooting death of 25-year-old Wayne Thomas of Portsmouth last year, even though Bond wasn’t present at the killing.
Hours before the murder, Bond, 46, had ordered an alleged accomplice to kill Thomas. When the shots were fired, Bond was sitting in a hospital room a mile away.
Bond, of North Carolina, showed no emotion when the jury of seven men and five women stood one by one to affirm their unanimous decision. The deliberations took about an hour and 15 minutes, and ended a four-week trial in which Bond was convicted of murder, kidnapping and armed robbery.
Bertie County Superior Court Judge Cy A. Grant Sr. accepted the jury’s recommendation in the March 25, 1994, murder.
The execution is scheduled for June 2. Bond, who can choose execution by lethal injection or in the gas chamber, is automatically allowed to appeal his sentence under North Carolina law.
“May God have mercy on your soul,” the judge told a stoic Bond as he stood with his hands cuffed behind him.
“At least now, there’s some resolution for the Thomas family,” said Phyllis Cherry, who helped prosecute the case.
Bond’s defense lawyers said they are confident the sentence will be overturned on appeal because Bond was not present and had no idea the shooting occurred.
“From our research, there’s never been a reported case in which the facts were exactly like this case,” defense attorney A. Jackson Warmack Jr. said after the sentencing. “The appellate courts are going to look at it with a fine-toothed comb.”
Bond’s other defense lawyer, Samuel B. Dixon, added: “I’m sure we’ll be back doing this again.”
North Carolina law allows the death penalty in certain cases where the defendant was not at the crime scene. In Virginia, Bond could not have received the death penalty because he did not fire the fatal shots.
It was one year ago today that Bond and the alleged trigger man, 16-year-old Theola Saunders, allegedly abducted Wayne Thomas and his sister, Leslie Dawn Thomas, 21, from their Portsmouth home after a foiled robbery attempt at a nearby Pizza Hut.
Armed with a sawed-off shotgun and a pistol, Bond and Saunders forced Wayne Thomas and his sister, who was four months pregnant, to join them in an eight-hour crime spree that led them though southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina.
The day after the abduction, Saunders allegedly shot Wayne Thomas three times in the back behind a Windsor convenience store. Leslie Thomas testified that her brother tried to overpower Saunders to allow her to escape and get help at the store.
Bond, who was at the county hospital seeking treatment for an accidental gunshot wound to his foot, had told his alleged accomplice two hours before the shooting to “waste them” if they tried to escape, Leslie Thomas told the jurors during trial testimony.
“Theola Saunders is not the child they made him out to be,” Dixon said. “He was a grown man acting on his own.”
Thursday, Leslie Thomas sobbed and clutched a Polaroid snapshot of her brother as she stood outside the courtroom after the sentencing. She was surrounded by her mother, father and other supporters. “I’m very happy and I think Wayne would be real happy,” she said. “He was with us today.”
“I just want (Bond) to suffer for what he’s done to me and my family,” she said. “I’m just glad the judicial system works.”
Jurors, some of whom wiped tears from their eyes during Leslie Thomas’s emotional testimony, waited outside the courtroom as family members filed out after the sentencing.
“It’s going to be all right,” said juror Larry Collins as he hugged a sobbing Leslie and shook hands with her father and uncle.
“(Bond) had done so much,” said Collins, a 41-year-old sawmill worker. “It just felt like he didn’t need to be back on the street no more.”
“It was real hard,” said fellow juror Bobby Bond, 39, who is no relation to the defendant. “But justice had to be done.”
Jury foreman Gregory Sharpe said there was little debate among the panel members and discussions were calm.
“Everybody felt good with the decisions they had made,” said Sharpe, 33, who works for the North Carolina Department of Transportation. “We put a lot of emphasis on you making your own choice.”
During the trial, Bond did not take the stand, and his attorneys offered no defense.
“That was really a decision that he made, not to take the stand,” Dixon said.
After Bond’s conviction March 15, defense lawyers urged jurors to spare their client’s life and to sentence him to life on the murder charge and the maximum 120 years on the armed robbery and kidnapping charges.
During the sentencing hearing, defense lawyers offered testimony from numerous witnesses, including two of Bond’s elementary school teachers and his sister. They testified that Bond grew up in extreme poverty, was sexually abused as a child and was the product of a dysfunctional family.
Saunders is scheduled for trial next month.
District Attorney David Beard said prosecutors do not intend to offer a plea bargain in the case.
Saunders faces a maximum sentence of life plus 120 years in prison. He cannot receive the death penalty because he is a juvenile. ILLUSTRATION: File color photo, by Beth Bergman, Staff
The execution of Charles Bond, 46, is scheduled for June 2. Under
North Carolina law, he is allowed to appeal the sentence.