Authorities allege an ongoing feud drove Sacorey McKelvey to ambush Corey Owens at Wynnton Road and Adair Avenue, firing six shots into Owens’ white Chevrolet Suburban as the 29-year-old father of two pulled up to the stop sign there around 1:50 p.m. on April 24, 2014.
One bullet punched through the back of Owens’ head, causing massive bleeding, a prosecutor said Monday during a pretrial hearing in the murder case. Owens died at 12:55 p.m. the next day in the Midtown Medical Center’s intensive care unit.
Now McKelvey is headed to trial, with jury selection to begin Tuesday in Judge Gil McBride’s Government Center courtroom. Besides murder, he is charged with aggravated assault and using a firearm to commit a crime.
If convicted, he could be sentenced to life without parole. Assistant District Attorney Chris Williams said he has offered a plea deal in which McKelvey would serve life with possible parole in exchange for a guilty plea. McKelvey has declined the offer.
Typically those sentenced to life with parole serve 30 years before becoming eligible for release. McKelvey is 25 years old.
Fight preceded shooting
Investigators said Owens’ shooting was in reprisal for a confrontation McKelvey had with the victim and two brothers on April 22, 2014, the Tuesday before the Thursday shooting. Owens’ family told police McKelvey pointed a pistol at them and threatened to kill them before the brothers wrested the gun away and beat McKelvey, who vowed revenge.
The witnesses said McKelvey initiated the confrontation because he was furious he’d lost a job after the employer discovered McKelvey had been charged with making terroristic threats in 2009.
McKelvey threatened three women on March 10, 2009, and the following Nov. 17 pleaded guilty to three counts of making terroristic threats, according to court records. Charges of pointing a gun at someone, carrying a concealed weapon, having no license to carry a concealed weapon and possessing a gun while younger than 18 were dropped.
A judge sentenced McKelvey to five years’ probation and ordered him to stay away from the victims, one of whom was the girlfriend of Owens’ brother Gregory Owens. She said McKelvey put a gun in her face and threatened to kill her.
Owens’ family said that after the brothers beat McKelvey and took his gun, the suspect started stalking them, culminating in his hiding in nearby bushes two days later to wait for Owens’ Suburban to reach the Adair Avenue stop sign before firing repeatedly at the driver.
Owens had just left home to pick up his son and daughter, the family said. At the time the son was only 2 years old, and the daughter was still an infant at 10 months.
McKelvey fled after the shooting, leading a “nomadic” life in which he was “floating” from place to place to avoid capture, police Sgt. Jason Brown testified Monday during the pretrial hearing. Authorities captured him on June 5, 2014, and Brown questioned him that night.
Defense attorney Susan Henderson questioned whether her client truly understood that he waived his rights before the police interview began. Brown acknowledged he did not ask whether McKelvey could read and write before having him peruse and sign the waiver form.
Brown said he did read the form aloud first, and McKelvey never told officers he had any difficulty reading.
McBride decided the recorded police interview was admissible trial evidence.
Henderson also objected to prosecutors’ showing jurors graphic autopsy photographs, arguing that could prejudice them against her client. Senior Assistant District Attorney Don Kelly said jurors will see only the “minimally gruesome” images necessary for a medical examiner to establish that Owens died from a bullet in his head.
Court is to resume at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.