Keyon West will be assigned a capital defender in the Glenview murders as well.
All three appeared before District Court Judge Vershenia Ballance Moody this morning in Halifax.
West and Powell were charged Monday in the murders of James and Janice Harris and James and Peggy Whitley as they played cards at the Harris’s Glenview residence in August.
Powell and Irby were charged Saturday in the shooting death of T.J. Johnson and the non-fatal shooting of James Livingston in the Deer Run Drive area around the old airport outside Roanoke Rapids.
In all, Powell faces five counts of murder.
Irby was the first to appear in court this morning and District Attorney Valerie Asbell laid out the charges against him — first-degree murder, attempted murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon.
Moody explained to Irby the first-degree murder charge carried either a sentence of life without parole or death, while the attempted murder charge carried 484 months and the robbery charge 204 months.
Irby requested a court-appointed attorney. He has been represented in the past by Tonza D. Ruffin, who Moody said was on the capital defenders list. The Capital Defenders Office will select an attorney, the judge said.
Irby asked the judge, “Can I get out on bond? Can I get an ankle bracelet?”
Moody replied: “That’s premature.”
Said Asbell: “He’s been advised he will be sentenced to life or death. We ask that no bond is set.”
Said Moody: “At this time I’m not going to set a bond on the Class A (murder charge).”
West appeared next to be read the four counts against him in the Glenview murders. He requested a court-appointed attorney and Moody said one would be requested through the Capital Defenders Office.
West asked the judge, “Is there any way I can have a speedy trial?”
Replied Moody: “Certainly a motion can be filed by your attorney.”
Powell was pushed into the courtroom in a wheelchair. Law enforcement sources would not say what was specifically wrong with him other than he had been released from the hospital for unspecified medical reasons.
Moody told Powell, who through most of the proceedings kept his head down, he would be appointed an attorney through the Capital Defender’s Office.
In a statement on the proceedings, Asbell said of the West and and Powell case, “It is an ongoing investigation and I am under ethical obligation not to discuss this case further at this time. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the Harris and Whitley families.”
She directed rrspin.com to the statement when asked if she had seen any evidence which tied West and Powell together and to the first man arrested in the case — Matthew Simms.
The statement in the Irby and Powell case was nearly identical to the first one, except she said, “Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the Johnson and Livingston families.”
In the Glenview murders the only information to be divulged in the case is that items of value were missing from the Harris residence and the motive is robbery.
The four were shot through a glass door while they sat playing cards at the dining room table. All the victims died at the table after they were shot multiple times.
All documents pertaining to that case have been sealed as have search warrants in the Johnson murder.
Their next court dates are set for January 17.