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Shooting defendant linked to teen's killing in Amherst denied bond
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amherst county

Shooting defendant linked to teen's killing in Amherst denied bond

AMHERST — A North Carolina man arrested on shooting charges last week in connection with the death of a 17-year-old in Amherst County was denied bond Tuesday.

Steve Anderson Burrell, 25, of Whiteville, North Carolina, was arrested last week and charged with shooting a firearm from a vehicle and maliciously shooting into an occupied dwelling, along with co-defendant Kevin Jalany Graham, 31, also of Whiteville, North Carolina.

Deputies with the Amherst County Sheriff’s Office responded to what they found out to be two related calls the night of May 31, one involving shots fired into a residence on Sprouse Drive and the other involving a man in a car near the intersection of U.S. 29 and Virginia 130 who’d been shot, the sheriff’s office said last week.

A 17-year-old discovered in the car with a gunshot wound to the chest died at the scene, the sheriff’s office said. Law enforcement has not named the victim, but The News Reporter, a Whiteville-based newspaper, has identified him as Malachi Zechariah Mullins. Mullins’ mother told the newspaper he was traveling to Amherst County to pick up a car, which Commonwealth’s Attorney Lyle Carver echoed in court Tuesday.

At Burrell’s bond hearing Tuesday in Amherst General District Court, Carver said the calls prompted a large-scale response from local and state law enforcement, including a police helicopter out of Richmond, and placed several schools on lockdown as officers launched a full investigation in what he said would’ve been a murder.

Carver said there’s a “very strong” case for Burrell’s shooting charges, later adding it’s too early to tell whether Burrell could face a murder charge.

Carver didn’t indicate any reason why the shooting might’ve happened, merely saying it created a “very dangerous situation” and mentioning the victim is family to Burrell.

When responding to Sprouse Road, deputies found a trailer there had been shot multiple times and had shaken two innocent people inside who’d been watching television, Carver said. He said investigators found two handguns that matched the bullet holes in the trailer and the holes’ trajectory indicated they would’ve come from a vehicle.

Mike Lovell, Burrell’s attorney, said his client had no criminal history whatsoever and asked for a $10,000 bond. He pointed out it was Graham, Burrell’s co-defendant, who ran from law enforcement and initially provided a false name.

Lovell said he was concerned his client could be in jail for a long time while investigators figure out the case. Carver requested bond be denied for Burrell, pointing out there’s no pretrial services in Amherst County that would keep constant tabs on him.

A substitute judge denied Burrell’s request, citing the seriousness and seeming randomness of the shooting as well as the potential for other charges in the future.

Burrell is being held at the Amherst County Adult Detention Center. Both he and Graham are scheduled for preliminary hearings Aug. 31.

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