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17-year-old in custody after teens found shot to death in Orange County

ORANGE COUNTY, N.C. — A suspect linked to the shooting deaths of two teenagers in Orange County is in custody on Wednesday afternoon.

WRAL News learned a 17-year-old boy was detained after a juvenile petition was served. The petition against the boy, whose name was not released, includes two counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of Devin Clark and Lyric Woods.

The suspect will now appear in front of a judge in juvenile court at an undisclosed location within 10 days.

“We hope this apprehension provides some relief to the families and friends of Devin and Lyric, who have experienced an excruciating loss,” said Orange County Sheriff Charles Blackwood. “Obviously, the capture of the suspect does not restore their loved one to them. The grieving process is a long one, and we hope the community will continue to support them in their pain.”

Assistant District Attorney Anna Orr said an investigation is ongoing. Orr did not elaborate about any others being questioned.

“There is a big relief off my chest knowing this person is in custody,” said Tiffany Concepcion, Clark’s mother. “This is the longest 17 days I have ever had in my life.”

Concepcion said she still needs answers as to why this happened.

On Wednesday, a memorial of flowers and crosses were seen at the site where the bodies were discovered.

Daniel Meier is a defense attorney who mostly handles cases in Durham County. He handles a few cases in Orange County. Meier spoke in detail on the legal proceedings, considering there are two first-degree murder charges listed in the petition.

“If you’re charged with murder, and you’re 16 or 17 years old, it’s going to be an automatic transfer,” Meier said. “He will be transferred to adult court and prosecuted as the law requires.”

A memorial of wreaths and crosses at the site where Lyric Woods and Devin Clark were found dead in Orange County in September.

Meier expanded on what he felt were likely punishments for the boy.

“Since he was a juvenile at the time. he cannot get the death penalty,” said Meier. “This cannot be a capital case. The only two possible punishments he could get for the first-degree murder is either life without parole or life with the chance of parole after 25 years.”

Last month, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office issued a statement addressing outstanding questions in the search for the murderer behind and motive.

According to reports, Clark, 18, and Woods, 14, were last seen in a car with a third person. That third person has not been publicly identified, and investigators have not said whether the person in the vehicle was the same person they are considering a possible murder suspect. The bodies of the two teens were found along an ATV path in Orange County, and the sheriff’s office filed a petition against a 17-year-old in connection to those deaths.

Under North Carolina law, the 17-year-old is treated as a juvenile and any criminal records kept private.

“The North Carolina General Statutes prohibit the release of all records and files pertaining to cases of juveniles under supervision of juvenile court counselors. A record includes, but is not limited to, information obtained from witnesses, laboratory tests, surveillance, confidential informants, investigators, photographs, measurements, and officer case notes. Moreover, a different subsection explicitly provides that law enforcement shall withhold these materials from public inspection unless the case is transferred to superior court,” Blackwood explained.

Unless and until the 17-year-old is indicted or the court finds probable cause that he or she committed a felony (murder would be one example), the case stays in the juvenile system.

Blackwood said he recognizes the public’s desire for information related to the deaths of Clark and Woods but asked for patience. “We cannot afford a misstep this close to the goal line,” he said.

Defense attorney Daniel Meier, who is a defense attorney in Durham but does not have ties to the case, said a suspect accused of two counts of first-degree murder would ultimately likely be tried as an adult. “Once he’s transferred to adult court, then all bets are off and the name can be released,” said Meier.

It will be up to the district attorney to decide whether to keep the 17-year-old suspect in the adult system or leave the case in juvenile court.

“Someone charged with a double homicide, unless there’s real extreme circumstances, I’d be surprised if the district attorney in Orange County chose to keep these in juvenile court,” said Meier.

Meier said there is a big difference in a sentencing between juvenile and adult court. In juvenile court, Meier said, there’s a cap on how long someone can serve.

“He can only be held until he’s 23 — that’s the maximum for juvenile court. Then, juvenile records are sealed,” he said.

But, in adult court, a defendant convicted of first-degree murder has much more limited options.

“There are only two options for someone who committed the crime when they were under the age of 18, and that would either be life without the possibility of parole or life with the possibility of parole after 25 years,” said Meier.