Man wanted for murder after body found in burning car arrested

Published: Jan. 6, 2016 at 9:11 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 5, 2016 at 9:11 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A man wanted in connection to a man's death whose body was found in a burning car has been arrested, police say.

The homicide case began with a shooting in northwest Charlotte and led to a fatal officer-involved shooting four days later.

Jay Phifer, 39, is facing murder charges in the death of Norris Martin, whose body was found inside a burning car at a Gaston County school. Phifer is also charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, robbery with a dangerous weapon, kidnapping and breaking and entering.

A second suspect in Martin's death, 30-year-old Germonta Wallace, was fatally shot by police when they attempted to serve a warrant on him and he reportedly opened fire.

During the confrontation with Wallace, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officer Jessica Zinobile was shot in the ankle. She was taken to Carolinas Medical Center to be treated for her injuries, which were described as minor.

Two other men, Marquez Breon Springs-Owens and James Evans, are also charged with murder in Martin's death, among other charges ranging from conspiracy to commit armed robbery to kidnapping.

The case began on December 30, when police began investigating a shooting on Woodland Circle in Charlotte. During that investigation, officers were told there was a body inside a car.

Several hours later, Martin's body was found inside a burning vehicle at Warlick Academy in Ranlo. Investigators have not said how Martin died, but did say he was killed in Charlotte before being taken to Gaston County where the car was set on fire.

Police said Evans was arrested while trying to leave the scene of the burning vehicle.

On Sunday, officers went to a home on the 2600 block of Watson Drive to arrest Wallace and Springs-Owens when they say Wallace shot at them and was in turn fatally shot. Springs-Owens was found inside the home and was arrested without incident.

Eight officers were placed on administrative leave following the fatal confrontation. This is standard protocol for any officer-involved shooting.

Investigators have not said what evidence led to the charges against Phifer.

Anyone with additional information is asked to call 704-432-TIPS, or Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.


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