Judge allows state to seek death penalty against suspect accused of shooting Trooper Kevin Conner

Judge allows state to seek death penalty against suspect accused of shooting Trooper Kevin Conner
Chauncy Askew, wearing a bulletproof vest, enters a Columbus County courtroom Friday afternoon. A judge granted the District Attorney's Office's request to seek the death penalty against Askew.

COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WECT) - A strong law enforcement presence and dozens of family members watched as Chauncy Askew entered a courtroom Friday wearing a bulletproof vest. The judge approved District Attorney Jon David’s request to seek the death penalty in his case.

Askew, 18, is charged with first-degree murder for his role in the shooting death of State Trooper Kevin Conner.

“When I saw him, I felt tears in my eyes,” said Early Gowans, Askew’s mother. “I had to put my head down. I’ve never seen that before. I just don’t think my son done it.”

Trooper Kevin Conner (Source: NC Highway Patrol)
Trooper Kevin Conner (Source: NC Highway Patrol) (Source: NC Highway Patrol)

Askew and Raheem Davis are accused of gunning down Conner in mid-October during a traffic stop for a speeding violation on US 701 near Sellers Town Road in Columbus County. Conner died after being taken to a local hospital.

David claimed in court that Askew was the one driving the stolen vehicle and was responsible for pulling the trigger, firing a bullet that ultimately killed Conner. Askew’s attorney, however, says there is no evidence to back that claim.

“Seeking the death penalty for my son is wrong until they find that my son did it - but I don’t think my son did that,” Gowans said.

Askew's attorney said his client is incompetent to stand trial, only scoring a 52 on an IQ test earlier this week and scoring a 56 in 2015. He was hoping to get the rule 24 hearing continued, but the judge denied his request.

“His lawyer is doing the right thing,” Gowans said. “My son does have brain damage because he has been in a car accident before. I hope they bring all that before a judge.”

Ultimately, the judge agreed this is a capital case saying there are aggravated factors. The judge asked the capital defenders office be called to get Askew a second attorney.

According to David, a grand jury indicted Davis on Wednesday for accessory after the fact to first-degree murder. His first-degree murder charge has been dropped.

“I don’t think my son should be involved in this death penalty case alone,” Gowans said. “I think other parties that was with him need to be treated the same way as my son.”

An unsealed search warrant revealed Davis' mother tipped off investigators about Askew’s involvement in the shooting.

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