A man who inflicted a fatal slash wound to his uncle during a 2018 family gathering at a Clinton home will face more than 13 years in prison for the killing, which occurred as the relatives were together grieving the loss the family's matriarch, who was the victim's mother-in-law and the defendant's grandmother.
Jamaal Peterson, 42, formerly of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., pled guilty to second degree murder in the death of his uncle Sergeant Major (Ret) Anthony Frederick, 51, of Phoenix, Ariz. The plea was entered on Thursday, Oct. 7, in Sampson County Superior Court.
Resident Superior Court Judge Henry L. Stevens, IV, sentenced the defendant to not less than 166 months (13 years, 10 months) nor more than 212 (17 years, 8 months) months in the North Carolina Department of Adult Correction.
The fatal incident happened in September 2018.
According to the District Attorney's Office, which issued a press release on the sentencing, state's evidence showed that the defendant, the victim, and their families were in Clinton for the funeral of the defendant's grandmother who was also the victim's mother-in-law, Evelyn Jacobs. After the funeral services concluded, the family was gathered at Jacobs' residence, located at 113 Harmon St., Clinton, to spend time together prior to returning to their homes.
The defendant's mother, Vanessa Jinwright, was in charge of keeping up with the floral arrangements that were sent for the funeral so the family could make sure "thank you" notes were sent. During the evening, an argument ensued between Frederick and Jinwright about a card on a floral arrangement. During the argument, Jinwright called for her sons, including Peterson and his brother.
According to prosectors, all the witnesses agreed that the argument was short, never physical. No threats were made, and neither person was armed, witnesses said.
The parties separated and Frederick walked down the hallway to the bedroom where he and his wife were staying and was speaking with his brother-in-law, Chris Peterson, when the defendant knocked Peterson down, and stabbed Frederick in his left arm with a large, serrated bread knife. The defendant's father, Tony Peterson, restrained his son, took the knife from him, and took him outside. The victim told his wife, Tracy, to call 911, which she did. By the time law enforcement and EMS personnel arrived, the victim had lost consciousness.
Clinton Police Officers, Cpls. Ariel Nunez and Manuel Crespo, along with Sheriff's Office medic, Dr. Tim Smith, started life-saving measures, but were not successful. During the investigation, a witness reported to law enforcement that the defendant said "I'm a just handle this" prior to assaulting the victim. Another witness reported that the defendant got up to check on his mother, went into the kitchen, rummaged through a drawer, took a knife from a block of knives on the counter, and walked toward the bedroom.
Sampson County Medical Examiner, Dr. F. Carl Barr, Jr., determined that Frederick suffered a large, slashing incision to his left arm, and died as a result of a severe loss of blood due to the severing of his left axillary vein and artery.
According to initial reports from Clinton Police Department officials, Clinton Police officers and Sampson County Sheriff's deputies responded to the Harmon Street home that September evening and, when they arrived, found a large crowd at the home, said by police officials to be "highly emotional."
While law enforcement trying to determine what had occurred and who was involved, a male armed with a knife charged toward a second male who was in the yard. The first male, identified as Joshua Frederick, was tased and detained while the investigation continued. The second male was identified as Joshua's Frederick's cousin Jamaal Peterson, the man who was ultimately charged and now sentenced three years later.
Joshua Frederick, the son of Anthony Frederick, was reportedly attempting to retaliate for the attack on his father and was tased and restrained by police in an attempt to avoid a potential second murder. He was not ultimately charged with anything. Police then determined that Jamaal Peterson cut Anthony Frederick, resulting in a severe laceration to his upper arm and took Peterson into custody.
The victim's family was present at the guilty plea and District Attorney Ernie Lee said they were pleased with the outcome.
"This is truly a senseless tragedy. By all accounts, this should not have happened but for what can only be described as the defendant's extreme and uncalled-for overreaction," Lee said in a prepared statement. "Because of his actions, a wife buried her husband only days after burying her mother. Their three children are forever without their father.
"A larger, close knit family will never be the same as one family member is gone and another will spend more than the next decade in prison," Lee continued. "It is my sincere hope that this plea and sentence will allow Mrs. Frederick and her family to begin to heal and find peace."
The state was represented by Assistant District Attorneys Robert N. Thigpen and Frank E. McQuade. The defendant was represented by Ralph K. Frasier, Jr., of Durham.
Editor Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 2587.