York County police and prosecutors are a step closer to starting a potential death penalty case against a Charlotte felon accused of killing a Lake Wylie couple to keep them from testifying in another court case.
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed an extradition warrant this week to have the suspect moved to South Carolina.
Malcolm Jarrell Hartley, 21, is one of two people charged in the Oct. 23 killings of Doug and Debbie London at the Londons’ Lake Wylie home.
Months earlier, Doug London had been robbed at his Charlotte mattress store, and prosecutors say he and his wife were killed to keep London from testifying against two men accused of the May 25 robbery. If Hartley and co-defendant Briana Johnson are convicted of murdering the Londons, prosecutors could seek the death penalty because the crime involves two homicide victims and London was allegedly killed because he was a witness in another case.
Court documents at Charlotte’s courthouse show a York County judge has signed two arrest warrants against Hartley. The warrants state Hartley shot both Doug and Debbie London with malice.
Both Hartley and Johnson, 19, of Concord, N.C., are charged with two counts of murder. Hartley is in jail in Charlotte without bond. Johnson is in the York County jail after she waived extradition following her Jan. 29 arrest. She also is being held without bond.
Hartley was scheduled for court Friday in Charlotte on a misdemeanor charge of possession of drug paraphernalia, but Charlotte prosecutors dismissed the misdemeanor charge Friday after the governor’s warrant for extradition arrived Thursday, said Ashley Payne, a Mecklenburg County assistant district attorney.
Hartley apparently is continuing to fight extradition despite the governor’s warrant. Legal experts say Hartley almost certainly will be extradited.
If Hartley waives extradition now after McCrory has signed the warrant, Hartley could be brought to South Carolina at any time. But Hartley still has a right to a hearing in a Charlotte courtroom to try to stave off extradition. That hearing had been scheduled for March 3 before the governor’s warrant was served, but now is set for March 12, said Meghan Cooke, a spokesperson for the district attorney’s office in Charlotte.
Once a governor’s warrant is issued, a defendant can contest it, Cooke said in a statement. If Hartley contests the warrant, another court date will be set for a judge to hear Hartley’s claim.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a suspect can only fight extradition to another state on the following grounds: whether the extradition documents are in order; whether the defendant has been charged with a crime in the state that wants him; whether the accused is the person named in the request for extradition; and whether the accused is a fugitive.
Authorities say the killings of the Londons is tied to the May robbery at a Charlotte store where Doug London shot one of his assailants, Jamell Cureton of Charlotte. However, police and prosecutors have not yet said what the link is between Hartley and Cureton and two other men.
Cureton, 22; his brother, Nana Adoma, 19; and David Lee Fudge, 21, face federal interstate robbery and weapons charges from the May 25 robbery. Police say Doug London shot Cureton as the two exchanged gunfire. All three are in jail in Charlotte without bond.
Cureton and Adoma were in jail in Charlotte when the Londons were killed, but Fudge, who had already pleaded guilty to being the getaway driver in the robbery, was free on probation at the time of the killings. Fudge, with past convictions for weapon possession and lying to police, “provided transportation to Cureton and Adoma to aid in their escape,” court documents in Charlotte state.
Fudge was later arrested on the federal charges and put back in jail without bond. Two weeks later, police charged Hartley and Johnson with the killings.
Hartley is on probation from a 2012 armed robbery of a pizza store employee. He was released on a $1,500 bond Oct. 31 on a drug paraphernalia charge. Charlotte police and prosecutors and probation officials did not seek to revoke his probation when Hartley was arrested Oct. 31. Revocation only began after police picked him up Jan. 29 on the double murder charges.
Cureton had only been out of prison for six weeks when he allegedly robbed Doug London’s store in May 2014 and was shot by London. Cureton had been put on probation for possession of cocaine at Waddell High School in Charlotte in 2010, but repeatedly violated his probation, court records show. Cureton was termed an “absconder” after not showing up to meet with probation officials, failing to report for substance abuse assessment, and at least twice testing positive for drugs after failing court-ordered drug tests, court records show.
Cureton also failed to perform 50 hours of court-ordered community service, records show. After his probation was revoked he was sentenced to four months in prison from the drug conviction before his release in April 2014.