Two High Point men facing charges that they fatally shot a security guard during an armed robbery of a Winston-Salem sweepstakes business in 2017 were each given a $3 million bond after a hearing Wednesday.
Prince Charles McDonald, 36, of Burton Avenue in High Point, and Michael Alexander McConnell, 39, of Pennywood Avenue in High Point, are each charged with first-degree murder, armed robbery and first-degree kidnapping in connection with the Dec. 11, 2017 death of Albert Fitzhugh Haskins Jr., who was also a pastor.
Another man, Demetrius Lamont Gainey, 41, of Bethabara Pointe Drive in Winston-Salem is also charged with the same crimes. Additionally, he is charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, inflicting serious injury. Prosecutors said Gainey shot Rashad Leshaun Webb, who also worked at the Hook Sweepstakes business at 4306 Kernersville Road.
Attorneys for McDonald and McConnell told Judge Brian C. Wilks of Forsyth Superior Court on Wednesday that prosecutors have no evidence proving that McDonald and McConnell were involved in the robbery or killed Haskins. In fact, the man who is alleged to have killed Haskins has never been charged, Jason Crump, McConnell’s attorney said in court.
“The real person who killed Mr. Haskins is still out in Guilford County,” he said.
Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Martin said that person has not been charged because neither McConnell nor McDonald has identified him, and there’s no other evidence for figuring out to whom Crump may be referring.
Crump said that as he has received more evidence from prosecutors, the case against his client has started to crumble. At first, Winston-Salem police said McDonald was one of the men who broke into the sweepstakes business, but both men seen on security camera were masked. None of the evidence gathered so far proves that McDonald was even there on the morning of Dec. 11, 2017, Crump said.
Police then said McDonald was driving the car, but McConnell said in a statement that he drove the car, Crump said.
But Martin said that McDonald had played games at The Hook before he got banned. He was familiar with how the business operated and the robbery took place after the business had closed, she said.
She said this was one of the more violent robberies she has prosecuted and that Haskins was asleep when the two masked men came in through an unlocked door and shot him. All Haskins was armed with was a BB gun, Martin said.
Webb was made to walk through the business at gunpoint and after he opened up a cash register, he was shot multiple times, Martin said. Webb survived but has no memory of what happened, she said.
Crump said the only real evidence against McDonald was the fact that he received several phone calls from McConnell.
Julie Boyer, McConnell’s attorney, said her client did nothing but cooperate with Winston-Salem police over the past two years. He told police detectives who showed up at his father’s house, where he lived, everything he knew. He didn’t tell police about the unidentified person Crump and Boyer said actually shot Haskins because he didn’t know.
McConnell knew McDonald because they grew up together, but he didn’t know Gainey, Boyer said.
Martin said that Gainey had made a statement that he knew how to get money, but Boyer countered that McConnell had no way of knowing that this statement meant Gainey was planning to rob a sweepstakes business or that there was some plan to murder Haskins.
Martin argued that when Gainey came out of the business with a gun, he gave money — what she called blood money — to McConnell. She said McConnell didn’t refuse that money, implying that McConnell knew the money was obtained through illegal means.
Crump and Boyer both argued that their clients did not pose a threat to public safety.
“He doesn’t have a record of going out and robbing people,” he said. “That is not him. This man is not a threat to the community. He could help the community.”
Crump asked that McDonald’s bond be set at $25,000, and Boyer asked for $50,000.
Martin asked that the bonds for each man be set at $3 million.
She also said that because of COVID-19, muder trials have been delayed for the time being. It’s not clear when murder trials will start again.
Wilks ordered that bonds be set for both men at $3 million and ordered that McDonald and McConnell have no contact with each other or with Haskins’ family.