Revenge not substantiated as motive for murder

Published 11:39 am Tuesday, November 13, 2012

FRANKLIN—Gregory “Peanut” Smith denies that revenge was the motive behind the Thursday night murder of his cousin and best friend, Eric “E.T.” Smith.

“That’s not true,” said Smith, who was among the last to see the victim alive. “They didn’t know each other.”

Smith, 30, of Franklin was referring to suspect Sol “Dukey” Damacus Burke, 25, of Suffolk, who as of Tuesday remained on the run, said Franklin Police Lt. Tim Whitt.

It’s been rumored that E.T. Smith, 30, of Franklin had gotten into a fight with Burke, and Burke was retaliating by allegedly shooting him when Smith answered the door at his mother’s home on Pearl Street. Shot once near his hip, he was taken to Southampton Memorial Hospital and flown to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

“People just want to make something up,” Smith said about the rumor. “It’s kind of hard to understand why people do what they do.”

Police have heard similar rumors.

“That has not been substantiated at this point,” Whitt said. “We have heard it, but have yet to receive any documentation from the county.”

This alleged fight occurred in Southampton County three weeks to three months ago, Whitt said.

No one from the Southampton County Sheriff’s Office returned a phone call.

Peanut Smith dropped off E.T. Smith at his mother’s home three hours before the murder.

“It feels unreal,” he said about the murder. “He said he wanted to get some dinner and he was supposed to call me back, but he never did.”

Police named Burke a suspect after talking to the victim’s family and others.

“We were able to establish the name “Dukey,” and the investigation led us to Sol Burke,” Whitt said.

Police have received no tips on Burke’s possible whereabouts since issuing a warrant for his arrest less than 24 hours after the murder.

“We have reason to believe he is on the run because he made no attempt to turn himself in or talk to us,” Whitt said. “With the amount of media coverage on news stations and newspapers, (he should know he is wanted).”

Burke may be in a 2004 red Dodge Durango with Virginia tags XDL-9247, police said.

“I know he was seen in that vehicle in the city the night of the murder,” Whitt said.

Burke is described as a 6-foot-4, 230-pound black man. He has a tattoo of “Dukey” on his right forearm and bicep.

A funeral will be held for E.T. Smith at 2 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15, at First Baptist Church on Hall Street in Franklin.

Anyone with information should call the Franklin Police at 562-8575, Det. Cpl. J. Butts at 562-2849 or Franklin Crime Solvers at 757-562-8599. Information that leads to an arrest can earn the caller a cash reward while remaining anonymous.