YANCEYVILLE, N.C. — His defense attorneys described a man who shot another in an effort to preserve his friend’s life.
The prosecutor implied the suspect took the law into his own hands by not contacting authorities during a “large drunken brawl” that ultimately ended with 41-year-old Keith Hayes shot dead on the floor of Lucky’s, a bar in Providence, North Carolina.
Damon Dewayne Lee, 42, of Danville, is charged with second degree murder in the March 11 shooting death of Hayes, also of Danville.
“There was never any indication … that Mr. Damon Lee was ever an aggressor in this situation,” said George Daniel, one of Lee’s attorneys. “He saved his friend’s life.”
Caswell County Superior Court Judge Christopher Freeman denied the suspect bond at Wednesday’s hearing.
“I find you to be both a danger to the community and a flight risk,” he said to the suspect, who was present through a video screen. Lee was visibly straining to hear what was being said during the hearing and had to ask the judge to repeat his final decision.
Witness testimony, transcripts from multiple 911 calls and a brief summary presented by the two defense attorneys — Daniel and Theresa Presley — indicate a violent brawl broke out on the night in question when a man hit a woman in the face. Witnesses said they were from out of town, and prosecuting attorney Matt Spigall, with the Caswell County District Attorney’s Office, said the man had dreadlocks.
“A somewhat riotous atmosphere developed,” Presley said.
The bouncer, who was called Ed Lee Bodkin by attorneys, asked the man to leave, but he followed him and hit him on the head with both a pool cue and a beer bottle. A brawl between the pair and several other people ensued.
At about 1:15 a.m. March 11, a patron called 911 to inform police about the brawl, which he said included 20 people. The caller, whose name was removed from the 911 transcripts, stated “one guy” was injured and most people were leaving.
He then said the injured man was conscious and did not need an ambulance.
Then Hayes fired a shot into the air. Presley and Daniel said a shot grazed Bodkin.
At some point during all the chaos, Lee exited the building, retrieved his firearm out of his car and re-entered the club, the three attorneys said. Lee then shot Hayes in the chest, according to the attorneys and witnesses.
A second 911 caller said both of the people had guns.
“Yeah he’s still here,” the caller said of the suspect. “He ain’t running.”
Hayes was pointing his gun at Bodkin when Lee took the shot, Daniel said.
“My client saved Mr. Bodkin’s life by shooting [Hayes],” Presley said.
Spigall disputed that evidence by saying Hayes’ firearm was holstered in his pocket when authorities arrived.
Lee’s next court date is scheduled for April 15.
Ayers reports for the Register & Bee. Reach him at (434) 791-7981.