Fayetteville man found guilty, sentenced to life in prison in 2017 murder of Craven County man at convenience store

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Ashley Velez, Brittany Leal and Anthony Johnson (Craven County Sheriff’s Office photos)

NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCT) — A Fayetteville man was found guilty and sentenced on Friday in the 2017 murder of a Craven County man at a convenience store during a robbery attempt.

Anthony Lamar Johnson, 24, was found guilty by a jury of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit robbery with a firearm, attempted robbery with a firearm and possession of a firearm by a felon in the death of Scottie Allen Morton, 43, of Cove City on Aug. 3, 2017. Judge Joshua W. Willey, Jr., sentenced Johnston to life without the possibility of parole followed by two consecutive sentences of 29-47 months and 14-26 months in prison.

On Aug. 4, 2017, a grand jury indicted three people in regards to a robbery and deadly shooting at a Cove City convenience store in August. Johnson and Ashley Velez were both indicted on first-degree murder charges, while Brittany Leal was indicted on a charge of accessory after the fact.

The Craven County Sheriff’s Office responded to Grady’s Old Country Store at 10805 Hwy 70 West in Cove City around 5:30 p.m. back on Aug. 3, 2017 in response to a shooting. When they arrived, they found Morton suffering from multiple gunshot wounds.

Witnesses told deputies they saw a black man with his face covered enter the store, demand money and shoot Morton several times. After the shooting, deputies said the suspect fled the store to an awaiting dark red SUV and fled the area.

Morton died on the scene.

Johnson and Leal were found in a residence in Cove City. Leal was arrested but Johnson fled into the woods, prompting a manhunt from several law enforcement agencies. He was caught around 11:30 a.m. the following day.

Velez was arrested on Aug. 7.

“We are very appreciative of the jury for their work in this case,” District Attorney Scott Thomas said. “They listened carefully to the evidence and reached the correct verdicts on these charges.

“Assistant District Attorneys Karen Hobbs and Matthew Wareham did an excellent job
preparing this case for trial and presenting evidence to the jury. They were assisted by
Legal Assistant Beverly Lynch. The Craven County Sheriff’s Office worked diligently
and professionally during the investigation and prosecution of this case. They were
assisted during this investigation by local and state law enforcement agencies, the North
Carolina State Crime Lab, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“Our sympathies and condolences continue to be with the family of Scottie Morton. We have worked closely with the family since the murder of Scottie to achieve justice in this case. We will continue to work with them as cases involving the other two co-defendants involved in these crimes are prosecuted.”

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