Two people were convicted of second-degree murder in connection with the June 2013 death of a Lenoir man during Caldwell County Superior Court on Tuesday, February 5, 2019.
Earl Franklin Moore, Jr., 40, of Lenoir, was sentenced to 23 to 28 years in prison following his plea for second-degree murder in the death of 34-year-old Raoul Anton Dula and other property crimes.
Jenny Lynn Childress, 39, of Lenoir, will spend 18 to 22 years in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder for Dula’s death along with other property crimes.
The Honorable Lisa C. Bell, Superior Court Judge from Mecklenburg County, imposed the active sentences for both defendants, who will serve their prison terms in custody of the North Carolina Division of Adult Corrections.
Dula was killed in the early-morning hours of June 20, 2013, and his mutilated body was found in the yard of a residence later that day. Due to the extent of his injuries, it took several hours for law enforcement officers to identify Dula as the victim. They used booking photos from the Caldwell County Detention Center to help with the identification.
The investigation shows that Dula and a family member knew Moore and Childress, and the four people spent time together engaged in drinking and drug activities on June 19, 2013. At one point, Dula’s family member was given money to make a drug purchase, but he did not return.
Prosecutors disclosed text messages between Moore and Childress that outlined a rough plan to kill Dula. They stopped at some point that night for Moore to get a machete more than 2 feet long, which is believed to be the murder weapon, used in a robbery of the victim.
Video surveillance from various convenience stores around Caldwell County put the four people together over the two-day period and showed a unique pair of jeans that Dula was wearing. After receiving information that the weapon was dumped in the Mill Pond in Granite Falls, divers searched the area and found a machete wrapped in the jeans that Dula had been wearing.
A lack of scientific evidence was a consideration in plea negotiations as well as mental acuity for Moore and variations in versions of the events of the killing offered by Childress.
The medical examiner who conducted the autopsy indicated that the machete found might not have been the weapon used to kill Dula. There also was no blood found in the car used on the night of the murder or on the clothing of the defendants.
Sgt. Doug Dupell led the investigation for the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office with assistance from Lenoir Police Department and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation. Assistant District Attorneys Andrew Jennings and Jennifer Mathews prosecuted matters for the State.
CONTACT: Nathan Key