Sending a message to family and friends of suspects charged with major crimes, Rock Hill Police on Tuesday charged the girlfriend, mother and sister of a homicide suspect with helping him flee to Florida last week.
Police have charged Shakira McCullough, 18, Deemetria McClinton, 25, and Arliver McClinton, 40, with accessory after the fact to murder, a felony carrying a maximum 15 years in prison on conviction.
Police say the three women helped Kenyan McClinton, 20, leave Rock Hill and travel to Osceola County, Fla., after he had been charged in the Nov. 19 shooting death of Jordan Poirier, a 20-year-old father to a 4-year-old girl, at Rock Hill’s Stone Haven apartments. Kenyan McClinton and fellow murder suspect Desmond Cunningham turned themselves in to Florida authorities Monday.
Kenyan McClinton and Cunningham will be extradited back to Rock Hill. They have yet to appear before a judge for an extradition hearing, police said Tuesday.
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Laterrious Demonte Ashley, 20, a third suspect in the shooting death, had been hospitalized after suffering a gunshot wound to the arm and a fractured leg, which he sustained while fleeing from the apartment complex. He is being held at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg jail awaiting extradition to Rock Hill. All three suspects are charged with murder.
The three arrested Tuesday were Kenyan McClinton’s girlfriend, sister and mother. Police arrested them to send a message to relatives of suspects charged with major crimes. That message: If you hide and help the suspects, you will face charges.
At about 9:20 a.m. Tuesday, police walked into South Pointe High School and escorted McClinton’s girlfriend, McCullough, to a vehicle in handcuffs. They spent much of the day tracking both McClinton women, who on Tuesday afternoon turned themselves in to authorities. They were being held at the Rock Hill jail awaiting bond hearings Wednesday morning.
The three women gave McClinton and Cunningham “quite a bit of assistance in hiding,” said Rock Hill Police Capt. Steve Thompson, who would not elaborate.
Rock Hill Municipal Judge Tanesha Lonergan denied McCullough’s bond during a hearing Tuesday afternoon because of the nature of her charges. She gave McCullough her upcoming court dates and explained her rights to a preliminary hearing, a probable cause hearing in which authorities must prove they had enough reason to charge a defendant with a crime. McCullough will be sent to the York County Detention Center. She will have the opportunity for another bond hearing before a Circuit Court judge in the coming months.
Police questioned McCullough the night of Poirier’s death, Thompson told Lonergan, but later learned that she had lied about his whereabouts. He said McCullough worked with McClinton’s mother and sister to provide the “material” means for McClinton to stay in Florida for several days.
“After I lied, I told the truth,” McCullough said to Lonergan. “I didn’t know what to say because I was scared. The first time, I told the lie but after the fact, I told the truth.”
She said police “are going with the lie.”
Police were able to identify Cunningham and McClinton as suspects in the shooting after speaking with Ashley and learning there had been a “party” inside the apartment before shots were fired, Thompson said.
Authorities hope the arrests of McClinton’s loved ones will stress their point.
“Family members should just get their folks to turn themselves in,” said Executive Officer Mark Bollinger of the Rock Hill Police Department. If not, the relatives who knowingly aid their family members will be “facing charges.”
Members of Cunningham’s family are not considered accessories and had no involvement in helping the men flee to Florida, Bollinger said.
John Barnette, founder of the Charlotte civil rights organization True Healing Under God (THUG), is helping Cunningham’s family and planning to organize anti-violence rallies on his behalf. Cunningham, he said, claims he walked out of the bathroom and saw Poirier holding a gun. Cunningham ran after shots were fired, followed by McClinton and Ashley.
Barnette said Cunningham called him last Saturday. On Monday, Barnette, along with Hayvonia Erby, Cunningham’s aunt, and other family members convinced Cunningham and McClinton to turn themselves in to deputies in Florida. Cunningham, Barnette said, was tired of running, and his stay at a hotel was coming to an end. He said both McClinton and Cunningham were driven to Florida, where they had been staying for nearly a week.
“This has been stressful on the family,” especially Cunningham’s mother, Erby said on Monday. “It’s been hard on both sides.”
Barnette hopes to host an anti-violence rally at Gethsemane Baptist Church, where he organized a similar rally in 2009 after police shot and killed 15-year-old Yvette Williams, a robbery suspect. On Tuesday, he said family members feared notifying police because they thought their loved ones would be harmed by authorities. He said he also plans to reach out to McCullough’s family, and help raise money to post her bond if a Circuit Court judge grants her one.
Police last week named Ashley, McClinton and Cunningham as suspects in Poirier’s slaying. When officers arrived, they found Poirier dead of at least one gunshot wound. A witness told officers that one of the suspects had been injured by a gunshot to the arm. Authorities checked with area hospitals for any gunshot victims matching the suspect’s description.
Carolinas Medical Center in Pineville, N.C., reported a match. From there, Ashley had been taken to receive medical treatment at CMC’s main hospital in Charlotte, police said. Other witnesses came forward and described the car the three men used to flee Stone Haven, authorities said. They found that car, which belongs to a friend of one of the suspects, parked outside CMC-Pineville.
Police are still investigating as to whether drugs were a factor in the killing, and are awaiting ballistics tests from the State Law Enforcement Division to determine who shot which of the two handguns found at the scene.