Trial set for murder suspect

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 2, 2008

COURTLAND—A trial date has been set and an attorney retained for a man accused of killing a mildly retarded Franklin man as he walked home from the store late one night last August.

Darris Lamont Thomas of South Street faces trial on charges of murder in the first degree, shooting in a public place, possession of a gun within 10 years of being declared a nonviolent felon and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

In an arraignment on Thursday, Southampton Circuit Court Judge Westbrook J. Parker set Thomas’ trial for Aug. 26-28. During Thursday’s court appearance, Thomas said that he had retained Eric Korslund of the Norfolk firm Zoby and Brocoletti, P.C., to represent him in court.

Thomas was arrested Aug. 7 for the shooting death the previous day of 21-year-old Harley Bethea, who was walking home from the Hi-Lo Market on South Street when he was struck in the chest by a bullet fired from a large-caliber handgun. He died at the corner of Mariner and Delk streets, about 100 feet from his front door.

Police said at the time that they did not believe Bethea had been the target of the shooting. Rather, they said, he seemed to have walked into the line of fire, unaware of the gunshots because he was listening to music on his headphones at the time.