WILSON, N.C. (WNCN) — For more than three years, three families have waited for justice. Their loved ones found dead inside the Wilson County home they shared back on Christmas Eve 2016. Dereck Harris, 31, charged with four counts of murder.
They came together Monday morning for the start of Harris’ murder trial only to learn the charges against the suspect would be dropped.
“There’s really no words to explain it,” Jessy Taylor said.
Taylor and her husband, Troy Starr were in court when prosecutors told the judge their case against Harris wasn’t strong enough to move forward.
“There’s not much evidence, no concrete evidence,” Taylor said.
Harris was accused of killing Taylor’s mother and brother, Tammy and Shane Pearce along with their significant others, Selby Outland and Nikki Privette. It happened on Banks Lane near Wilson.
“I pretty much stopped even celebrating Christmas,” Taylor said. “My mom was an easy-going person. She could make anyone laugh,” she explained.
Tammy was a fighter, she’d recently beaten cancer. Taylor still has the last text messages they exchanged.
It took the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office almost eight months to arrest Harris. Investigators said Shane owed him money for drugs.
“He has maintained his innocence from the very beginning,” Philip Lane, Harris’ attorney said.
Lane said his client was relieved.
Taylor told CBS 17 she believes they got the right guy.
The case was dismissed without prejudice, meaning Harris could be charged again. Taylor said prosecutors assured her investigators would continue to work it until they find the evidence they need to move forward.
Taylor said she was cautiously optimistic.
More headlines from CBS17.com:
- 31 people tested in COVID-19 outbreak at Clayton nursing home; some workers walked out last week
- ‘I’ve got to be there for them,’ says Raleigh hospice certified nursing assistant
- ‘Memories are everything’: Cleveland product Caiden Norman treasures role with ECU despite limited playing chances
- 1-year-old shot in head in NC town, police say
- Duke law student recovers from coronavirus, wants others to learn from his experience
For more stories like this that matter to you, click here to download the CBS 17 News app for free.
Watch live newscasts, get breaking news and sign up for push alerts – download now