Darrell Woods was sentenced to death by the State of North Carolina for the sexual assault and murder of Trae Devon Gibson. According to court documents Darrell Woods would break into the home of the victim Trae Devon Gibson where he would sexually assault and murder the victim. Darrell Woods would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death
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The State’s evidence tended to show inter alia that on 2 April 1994, Steven Carter, boyfriend of the victim and father of their child, left their apartment on Brownsboro Road at about 7:45 a.m. to go to work. Carter testified that he met defendant outside the apartment in the parking lot. Defendant asked Carter if he could borrow a screwdriver to remove a radio from a car, and Carter brought defendant one from the apartment. In about five minutes, defendant returned the screwdriver, explaining that it was the wrong type. Carter then drove to work.
Casey Greene, a friend of defendant’s, testified that at around 8:00 a.m. on 2 April 1994, he saw defendant borrow a screwdriver to get the radio out of a white car outside the apartments on Brownsboro Road. Mr. Greene left the area at around 9:00 a.m., and when he returned, at around noon, he saw defendant again in front of the apartments. They spoke for about five minutes, and Greene left to go to his girlfriend’s house across the street. He did not see defendant again.
Shawn Ratliff, a neighbor of Carter and Gibson’s, who had gone to high school with defendant, testified that he was leaving his apartment at around 9:00 a.m. and saw defendant. Ratliff told defendant he was going to run an errand and would be right back. When Ratliff returned at about 10:00 a.m., he saw defendant with Greene, standing in front of the stairwell near Carter and Gibson’s apartment. Trae Gibson was standing in her doorway talking to a man in a black car whom Ratliff did not know. Defendant told Ratliff that he was going to try to make some money and showed Ratliff two pieces of crack cocaine. Ratliff asked defendant if he needed money, and defendant told him no. Ratliff left and did not see defendant again.
Randy Lee Webster, Gibson’s cousin, testified that he saw her between 9:30 and 10:00 a.m. in her burgundy Toyota MR-2, with her baby Yo Yo, on her way to the laundromat. At about 11:00 a.m., he saw her again at home. She stood in the doorway of her apartment talking to Webster, who was in his black Talon automobile. While Webster was there, defendant approached the car and said he was trying to raise money for a hotel room. Webster saw no conversation take place between defendant and Gibson. Webster told Gibson he would see her later and left. He never saw Gibson again.
At 3:00 p.m., Carter arrived at home and noticed that Gibson’s Toyota was not in the parking lot. He spoke with a neighbor for about thirty minutes before walking into the apartment. The apartment was unlocked, which was unusual. When Carter entered, he saw that it had been ransacked. Carter went to the bedroom and found Gibson’s naked body lying on the floor. She was bound and gagged and had been cut and stabbed. Carter ran out of the apartment screaming for his neighbor, Shawn Ratliff, to call 911. Tammy May, who was dating Carter’s brother and who had spent a lot of time with Carter, Gibson, and their daughter Yo Yo, was present and saw Steve Carter come running out of his apartment. May’s immediate concern was the baby, and she ran into the apartment, where she saw Gibson’s body. The baby was lying on the bed, a few feet away from her mother’s body. She was not moving. May lifted Yo Yo’s head and saw that her eyes were swollen and red as though she had cried herself to sleep. May had kept Yo Yo on the weekends before and had never seen her eyes look like that. As Carter was too hysterical to take care of the baby, May held her until Gibson’s parents arrived.
Officer Chris Bullard of the Winston-Salem Police Department was the first officer to arrive at the crime scene. He testified that there was no sign of forced entry into the apartment. Dr. Donald Jason, who performed the autopsy on Gibson’s body, testified that there were twenty stab wounds to the neck; eight incise wounds to the neck; five stab wounds to the midchest; and burns on the lower back, right buttock, and left upper thigh. The burns were consistent with having been inflicted by a curling iron. The incise wounds appeared to have been made in order to cut the skin off the neck, consistent with torture. Trae Gibson bled to death; the stabbings would have caused her great pain and suffering. Dr. Jason testified that death would have occurred in fifteen to thirty minutes.
Officer Mark Triplett of the Hickory Police Department got a call regarding a car matching the description of Gibson’s car. Triplett and two other officers chased and stopped the car and found a man named J.D. Williams in the car by himself. Williams told Officer Triplett the whereabouts of the person who gave him the car. He did not know the person’s name, but identified defendant from a photographic array. When defendant was arrested at 5:00 a.m. on 3 April 1994, he was wearing orange pants stained with blood that was later found to match the victim’s blood.