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A man accused in the shooting deaths of four people on Christmas Eve made his first court appearance in Wilson County Friday, several days after deputies brought him here from a North Carolina prison.
Dereck Eugene Harris, 29, clad in an orange jumpsuit, stood before the court as District Court Judge Pell Cooper read the charges aloud.
Harris, of Wilson, is charged with four counts of first-degree murder in connection to the slayings of 47-year-old Selby Gene Outland, 54-year-old Tammy Lynnette Pearce, 28-year-old Paul Shane Pearce and 23-year-old Dominique Nicole Privette.
Tammy and Paul Pearce were mother and son, and Outland and Privette, respectively, were their significant others.
Wilson County sheriff's deputies retrieved Harris from prison on Tuesday, where he just finished serving an eight-month sentence for a probation violation and misdemeanor charges, according to officials. He was arrested on Jan. 12 for that probation violation.
Cooper read Harris his rights Friday morning and also asked Harris if he would be paying for a lawyer or needed a court-appointed attorney.
"My situation is I'm just getting out of prison," Harris told the judge. He said he did want a court-appointed attorney and asked Cooper if he could have the same lawyer who had previously represented him.
Cooper explained he wouldn't make that particular decision, but the next step would be to determine whether he qualified to have a court-appointed attorney.
Harris is being held without bond in the Wilson County Jail.
As Harris was being led away by bailiffs, Harris' family members yelled out, "Love you."
"Love you, too," he replied.
Wanda Samuel, Wilson County Sheriff's Office chief of staff, said Friday the investigation into the murder case is ongoing and deputies are continuing to follow up on all leads.
Samuel said anyone with information regarding this case can contact the Wilson County Sheriff's Office at 252-237-2118.
CHRISTMAS EVE MURDERS
Harris was known to some of the victims, according to Wilson County Sheriff Calvin Woodard. Woodard also said the motive in the killings was a drug debt that involved Harris and one of the victims. He has declined to say which victim.
Harris' arrest comes nearly eight months since the killings happened inside a Banks Lane home on Christmas Eve.
Neighbors reportedly heard gunshots around 1 a.m. Nearly 12 hours later, the victims' family members found bloodshed inside the home in the 2200 block of Banks Lane and called 911.
All four victims were found shot to death inside Tammy Pearce's home, which is located east of U.S. 301 off N.C. 42 East just outside the city limits. Some were shot multiple times, including Privette, who was shot nine times, according to their autopsy reports.
The victims were found in four separate rooms, wearing pajamas, according to their autopsies.
The reports indicate that 9mm and .38-caliber cartridge casings were found at the scene.
The front door was also kicked in.
Harris was convicted in February 2007 of misdemeanor hit and run and operating a vehicle without a license in Wilson County, according to the N.C. Department of Public Safety Division of Adult Correction. In July 2008, he was convicted of misdemeanor communicating threats.
His most recent conviction was in 2016 for speeding to elude arrest and misdemeanor hit and run, records indicate.