Slaying suspect in court

Published 2:09 pm Friday, November 21, 2008

WINTON, N.C.–William Curtis Futrell, the 34-year-old Franklin man accused of murdering two elderly sisters from Emporia in 2006, made his first court appearance Friday morning in Winton.

Shortly before appearing in court, two deputies with the Hertford County Sheriff’s Department escorted Futrell from the county’s Law Enforcement Center to the courthouse across the street. Futrell — wearing a bright orange prison jumpsuit, handcuffs, shackles and orange flip-flops — looked straight ahead when he left the prison building, but looked down when got closer to several reporters who were waiting for him outside the courthouse. He had a blank expression on his face.

When a television reporter asked him if he killed “the sisters” — Dorothy Hobbs, 74, and Nellie Bradley, 71 — Futrell said “no, I did not.” Responding to one of several follow-up questions, he said he “was in tears” when police came to arrest him.

Futrell was arrested Thursday morning in Franklin, and was charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Hobbs and Bradley. Their bodies were found in a wooded area off a dirt road north of Murfreesboro, N.C. on Aug. 4, 2006.

Deputies whisked Futrell into the courtroom of District 6B Court Judge Thomas Newbern. There, his voice barely audible, Futrell acknowledged his choice of a court appointed attorney.

When Newbern asked Futrell if he wanted a court-appointed attorney, Futrell nodded his head yes.

“Mr. Futrell, you are charged with two counts of murder in the first degree for which you could face the death penalty if convicted,” Newbern said.

Saying that he had his affidavit in hand, the judge declared Futrell as “indigent” and ordered that an attorney be appointed by the Office of the Capital Defender in Raleigh. According to North Carolina law, the state is responsible for appointing attorneys to represent defendants in first-degree murder cases if those defendants cannot afford legal representation.

Newbern also ordered a probable cause hearing in the case to be held on Dec. 2 in Hertford County District Court. Additionally, the judge ordered Futrell to be held without bond.

After his court appearance, deputies escorted Futrell back across the street to the county jail.

“I’m so glad that we made an arrest,” Hertford County Sheriff Juan Vaughan Sr. said afterward. Commenting about the investigation into the slayings, Vaughan said “it’s been a tough two years.”

When asked if authorities were looking for other suspects, Vaughan said that investigators “were still working on the case.” He declined to go into any other details about the investigation.