SMITHFIELD, N.C. (WNCN) — Two men charged in connection with a deadly armed robbery at a Johnston County gas station appeared in court Friday — and both could be facing the death penalty.
Bobby McLean Jr. and Manuel Patterson, both 19 years old, appeared solemn as the judge asked them if they understood their charges. Both men are accused of capital murder in the shooting death of Joseph Bowling, 23.
Bowling was visiting his mom at the Scotchman convenience store located at 1230 N.C. Highway 210 near Benson on Nov. 14 when multiple armed men burst in and robbed the store.
Friends and family told CBS 17 that Bowling liked to visit his mom when she worked the night shift.
“He was a big mama’s boy. He loved his mama,” said Bowling’s sister-in-law Emmily Mangum.
Bowling was spending time with his mom at the gas station when the group walked in, demanding money.
“From what I’m told, he told them to have what you want, we don’t want no trouble,” said Mangum.
She said Bowling went behind the counter to stand in front of his mom.
Benson police said one of the suspects started firing inside the store, shooting and killing Bowling as he protected his mother. Bowling had turned 23 years old the day before.
“I think everybody is in shock really. You never think it’ll be your family until something like that happens,” said Mangum.
According to the Johnston County District Attorney’s Office, the robbers got away with $150 from the gas station as well as personal property from Bowling and his mother.
In court Friday, the DA revealed McLean has a criminal past. In November of 2016, he pleaded guilty to attempted larceny and was sentenced to one year of supervised probation.
Patterson is being charged with murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon. McLean is facing those charges, plus possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Both were denied bond and will remain in custody. Both men will obtain court-appointed lawyers.
Johnston County Sheriff’s Office investigators are searching for John Wesley Pettiway III, 21, in relation to these crimes. There are warrants for his arrest on charges of murder, robbery with a dangerous weapon, and felony conspiracy.
A reward of up to $5,000 is being offered for information leading to the arrest of Pettiway III.
The gas station paid for Bowling’s funeral. His family is raising money for the rest of the expenses. You can donate here.
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