Durham man pleads guilty to shooting grandfather in the head at 16. Why did he do it?

Virginia Bridges
·4 min read

Nearly six years after William Evans was found shot and cold in a Durham parking lot, his grandson pleaded guilty to shooting the 65-year-old man with his own gun.

Under a plea agreement, Dominick Jackson pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to up to nearly 10 years in prison, with credit for the more than five years he spent in jail awaiting trial.

Under North Carolina sentencing laws, courts must consider mitigating and aggravating factors that could decrease or increase the sentence.

In this case, those factors included that Jackson was 16 at the time of the crime, he accepted responsibility, told police what happened and has a support system in the community, his attorney Alex Charns said.

Over the years the case has faced various delays, including Jackson going through multiple attorneys, according to statements in court.

William Evans found

Evans, who was a married father of two children and five grandchildren, went to work around midnight on June 25, 2015, to deliver newspapers for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun, according to statements in court. He brought Jackson along.

Evans was found around 6 a.m. unconscious with blood on his back, lying in a corner of the American Red Cross center’s parking lot on University Drive, said Assistant District Attorney Lindsey Spain.

Surveillance video shows Evans’ 2013 silver Chevrolet Impala pulling into the parking lot around 3 a.m., staying there for about two minutes and pulling off, Spain said. Police eventually arrested Jackson after a car and foot chase after finding him driving the Impala, Spain said.

At police headquarters the then teen agreed to speak with police but asked that his mother be present, Spain said.

His mother came into the interview room and asked him what had happened to her father, Spain said.

“Dominick began to cry and said that he was sorry,” Spain said. An investigator asked why he was sorry, and Jackson said because he had killed his grandfather, Spain said.

Jackson told police he was sitting in the back seat of the car when he shot Evans in the right side of his head when he got back in the car from delivering newspapers, Spain said.

“After being shot Dominick said that his grandfather fell out of the car,” Spain said, and then Jackson fled.

Beating with a broom stick

Charns said in the year leading up to the shooting Evans beat Jackson with an aluminum broom stick.

“After the beating Mr. Evans told his daughter that my client was too big for beatings any more and next time he would just shoot him,” Charns said.

The Department of Social Services was called and ordered that Evans not be left alone with Jackson, Charns said.

Joseph Evans, Evans’ son and Jackson’s uncle, said in court that he just wants justice for his father, who always made time for his family, especially his grandkids.

“All he was trying to do is help him,” Joseph Evans said in court. “That’s it.”

Joseph Evans said Jackson split the family, which sat on different sides of the courtroom.

“I still can’t get it to make sense,” Evans said. “He didn’t deserve to die the way he did.”

In court, Jackson asked for his uncle’s and others’ forgiveness.

“I have remorse every day. I am locked in that cell. I think about it,” he said. “I think about you. I think about grandma. I think about my little one.”

He also asked his relatives not to be mad at his parents.

“I just pray that y’all come back together,” he said. “Don’t be mad at my Mama. Don’t be mad at my Daddy. Be mad at me. I am the man behind this.”

Jackson then thanked his parents and his other supporters.

“I love every single one of y’all,” he said. “I appreciate y’all. For everything y’all continue to give me and continue to do for me.”

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