Testimony begins in trial of Duncan — (The Wilmington Star)

SSRI Ed note: Man on antidepressants drinks, becomes belligerent, shoots and kills estranged daughter-in-law when she comes to pick up son.

Original article no longer available

The Wilmington Star

By Ken Little,  Staff Writer  ken.little@starnewsonline.com

Wife: He didn’t look right to me

Thomas Howard Duncan hadn’t gotten along with daughter-in-law Johnetta Wrisborne Duncan for several years. He didn’t like the woman’s spending habits or the fact she was separated from his son David.

But Cathleen Duncan said she had no inkling that her husband would shoot and kill the 33-year-old Wilmington woman after she arrived at the Duncan home outside Leland to pick up her 3-year-old son on the afternoon of June 20, 2005.

Thomas Duncan, 65, is charged with a non-capital count of first-degree murder. His wife took the stand Tuesday during the first day of prosecution testimony in the Brunswick County Superior Court trial.

Cathleen Duncan testified her husband had been drinking wine and beer in the hours before Johnetta Duncan came to the Friendly Drive home. He was also taking an antidepressant medication that should not have been mixed with alcohol, she said.

“He just didn’t look right to me,” Mrs. Duncan said.

Johnetta and David Duncan had once lived in a mobile home on the Duncans’ property, but they separated about 2002. Relations between Thomas Duncan and his daughter-in-law went downhill after that, Cathleen Duncan testified.

The two argued over her handling of money and the separation. Cathleen Duncan testified that on the day Johnetta died, she said hello to Thomas Duncan and he did not return the greeting.

“He was just calling her names and they were just arguing,” she said. Thomas Duncan “told her she was crazy and she called him crazy and he approached her.”

As Cathleen Duncan was getting the 3-year-old ready to leave, her husband headed toward the door. Then she heard multiple gunshots.

Moments later, Duncan came back inside the home and set down a handgun, she testified.

Earlier, the six-man, six-woman jury heard a tape of the call a panicked Cathleen Duncan made to a Brunswick County 911 dispatcher right after the shooting.

“There’s been a shooting. Come on,” she said. “Come on. Come on, please.”

Duncan told the dispatcher she hid the gun from her husband.

“Please, hurry,” she said. “I didn’t know this was going to happen.”

Cathleen Duncan cried and wiped away tears as the 911 tape was played. Her husband, who claims the shooting was in self-defense, lost his composure several times during his wife’s testimony, sobbing quietly to himself.

Brunswick County Sheriff’s Deputy James Sheehan was first on the scene. He soon found Johnetta Duncan’s body lying on the porch, covered in blood.

Sheehan testified the defendant appeared in the doorway and he took cover. Thomas Duncan ignored the deputy’s commands to come out with arms upstretched.

“He wouldn’t move. He just stood there and stared at me,” Sheehan said.

Then the door “flew open,” Sheehan testified.

“He stepped out and he looked down at her and finally he looked back at me and put his hands up.”

Prosecution testimony continues today. Duncan is expected to testify in his own defense during the trial, court officials said.

Ken Little: 343-2389   ken.little@starnewsonline.com