2 sentenced in witness’ shooting

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A Wilson man will spend more than a decade behind bars in connection to a 2018 shooting that left a man injured.

Devanta Jamal Battle, who pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree murder on Monday, was sentenced to roughly 12 to 15 years in prison. His accomplice in the case, 30-year-old Sabrina Presley, pleaded guilty to acting as an accessory after the fact of attempted murder. Presley was sentenced to roughly three to four years in prison for her role in the incident.

On May 20, 2018, Battle, 25, tried to kill 31-year-old William Saxton by shooting him in the face and back off a rural road near Elm City. Presley drove Battle to and from the scene, according to court proceedings.

That shooting was connected to an April 2017 case where 24-year-old Ramone Malone-Bullock shot and killed 31-year-old Harry Beecher outside a Lincoln Street home.

On Friday, a Wilson County jury found Malone-Bullock guilty of first-degree murder in Beecher’s death after more than six hours of deliberations.


What started as a birthday party for a young child on April 1, 2017, turned deadly after midnight when a card game led to a dispute over money between Malone-Bullock and Beecher at Lincoln Street home, according to court testimony.

Battle, a witness to Beecher’s killing, testified during last week’s trial that Malone-Bullock contacted him from prison in 2018. Battle said Malone-Bullock wanted to get rid of Saxton, his cousin, after he found out Saxton told police that he let Malone-Bullock borrow his gun prior to the 2017 shooting death.

Battle also testified that Malone-Bullock came up with a ruse for Battle to lure his cousin on the premise that he was helping him check out a used car for sale that needed repairs.

Battle said when they came to a dead-end road, he shot and Saxton in the face. Saxton jumped out of the car and Battle followed, shooting him the back. Saxton survived the attack.


Last week’s murder trial took a turn when Malone-Bullock took the stand in his own defense, claiming his cousin was the person who shot and killed Beecher.

Saxton had owned the gun used in Beecher’s killing. Saxton testified that his cousin came to his house on April 1, 2017. The two were target-shooting in the yard, according to testimony.

Saxton allegedly let his cousin borrow the gun, which was later identified as the murder weapon. The gun was eventually returned, according to court testimony.

Saxton eventually told police that he let his cousin borrow the gun, which led police back to Malone-Bullock. Detectives testified that Saxton told police where his gun was during their investigation. He also gave them the name and phone number of the person to whom he sold the gun.

Saxton testified he sold the gun because he was about to begin probation and couldn’t legally possess a firearm.