Roger Blakeney was sentenced to death by the State of North Carolina for the murder of Callie Washington Huntley. According to court documents Roger Blakeney would break into the home of Callie Washington Huntley who he would murder during a course of a robbery and then set the house on fire. Roger Blakeney was arrested, convicted and sentenced to death
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The state presented evidence at trial which is summarized as follows: On 15 April 1996, between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 noon, defendant, age thirty-three, opened and crawled through a back window in his mother’s home for the purpose of stealing something of value that he could sell. Defendant stole three of his mother’s rings, a brown leather pouch, approximately $4.00 in change, a small herringbone chain, and his mother’s savings account deposit book. Defendant then telephoned his wife and told her he would be home in a few minutes.
After defendant finished speaking with his wife, the victim, age seventy-six, drove behind the house. The victim had lived with defendant’s mother for over twenty years. Defendant hid in a small room behind the refrigerator as the victim entered the residence. According to defendant’s confession, which was admitted into evidence at trial, defendant entered the kitchen, and the two began arguing. Defendant told authorities that he turned to leave, but the victim grabbed him. Defendant charged at the victim, grabbed and wrestled a .22-caliber revolver out of the victim’s hand, and hit the victim in the back of the head with the butt of the gun. The victim fell facedown on the kitchen floor and started bleeding. According to defendant, after some additional period of physical struggle, a metal can of kerosene was accidentally spilled. Defendant also claimed that a cigarette he was smoking fell out of his mouth at some time during the struggle. According to defendant, at some point, he pulled the victim off the floor, sat him in a chair, and wrapped an electrical cord around his hands and legs. Defendant then removed $78.00 from the victim’s wallet, exited the residence, and departed the area in defendant’s vehicle.
Terry Lee Bivens (Bivens), defendant’s longstanding friend, worked at a nearby business and observed defendant departing his mother’s residence on the day in question. Bivens recognized defendant’s vehicle. Seconds later, Bivens noticed smoke coming from the residence. Bivens and several other witnesses looked on as the house began to burn.
Firefighters arrived at the scene and discovered the victim’s wire-bound body as they fought the fire. Agent Van Worth Shaw, Jr. (Agent Shaw), an arson investigator for the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI), determined that the fire had two distinct points of origin and was caused by the use of a flammable liquid. In contrast to defendant’s statement, all accidental causes were eliminated during the investigation, and Agent Shaw opined that the fire was intentionally set. The investigation revealed traces of kerosene on samples taken from the couch in the den and on the victim’s clothing.
Dr. Robert Thompson, a forensic pathologist with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, performed an autopsy on the victim’s body. The autopsy revealed that seventy-five percent of the victim’s skin was charred. Dr. Thompson also observed that the victim had received a wound to the back and a wound to the left temporal area of the head, which resulted in injury to the brain. Dr. Thompson opined that the victim was conscious for approximately three to five minutes after the fire started, that the victim died within approximately ten minutes, and that the cause of death was carbon monoxide poisoning produced by the fire.
On 16 April 1996 law enforcement officers located defendant at a friend’s residence, sitting in the passenger seat of his vehicle. Defendant consented to a search of his vehicle, where the officers found his mother’s stolen jewelry, leather pouch, and savings deposit book in the glove compartment. The authorities later recovered the .22-caliber revolver that defendant had taken from the victim. Defendant had exchanged the gun for a loan. The investigation also revealed that bloodstains found on defendant’s clothing were consistent with the victim’s blood.
Defendant did not present evidence during the guilt-innocence phase of trial.