West End man sentenced in vehicular death case

Feb. 14, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

A West End man has been ordered to serve a minimum of 12 years in prison after pleading guilty recently in a 2010 vehicular death case.

Aaron Lee Berry, 33, pleaded guilty on Feb. 5 to one count each of felony death by motor vehicle and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, according to a news release from Moore County Superior Court. The release states that Berry also admitted to the status of being a habitual felon based on his having at least three prior felony convictions. The State of North Carolina was represented in the case by Assistant District Attorney Warren McSweeney, and the defendant was represented by attorney Jim Van Camp of Pinehurst.

Senior Resident Superior Court Judge James M. Webb sentenced the defendant to two consecutive sentences of 72-96 months in the North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections, which results in the defendant having to serve a minimum of 12 years in prison. The family of the victim, Shaun Talbert, was present during the hearing.

The charges stemmed from two separate, unrelated incidents. The firearm charge occurred on December 3, 2009, when a 30-06 rifle was pawned at City Pawn in Southern Pines after the defendant had previously been convicted of felony breaking and/or entering on May 31, 1995. Detective Sgt. Josh Craven with the Moore County Sheriff’s Office was the investigating officer in the case.

The felony death by motor vehicle case occurred on Feb. 13, 2010, on Hardee Branch Road between Murdocksville Road and Beulah Hill Church Road. The defendant was driving a pickup truck west on Hardee Branch Road at a speed of approximately 75 mph. Authorities reported that the defendant ran off the right side of the road, over-corrected the vehicle and crossed over the entire width of the road and struck a tree.

The passenger in the vehicle, Talbert, died instantly upon impact. The defendant was airlifted directly to UNC Hospitals, where he was treated for his injuries. According to the news release, Paul Glover, a research scientist with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, calculated based on performing a retrograde extrapolation that the defendant’s blood alcohol content at the time of the crash was a .08, which under the law in North Carolina subjects a person to prosecution for impaired driving. Trooper Brian Stewart of the State Highway Patrol was the lead investigator in the case.