A Havelock man acted in self-defense and won’t face charges in connection with a stabbing death last week, according to the District Attorney Scott Thomas.
Thomas announced in a release Wednesday morning that Donald Morris Smith, 47, of Havelock, “acted in justifiable self-defense” in the stabbing of Ralph Edward Whitney, 37, of Havelock, on the morning of Feb. 27 in apartment G-4 at Kelly Park Apartments on Shipman Road in Havelock.
According to Thomas, police responded to the Smith residence after receiving a call from Chereless Smith, wife of Donald Smith, reporting that an intruder had been found inside the apartment at 4 a.m. Donald Smith had been sleeping when he heard someone in the shower and a man’s voice.
Whitney, who had had a relationship with the Smiths’ 29-year-old daughter and was the father of the Smiths’ 2-year-old granddaughter, was inside the apartment, and Donald Smith told him to leave, Thomas said. At that point, Whitney charged Smith, and a physical confrontation ensued that spread into the hallway. Smith grabbed a pair of scissors from a nearby table and stabbed Whitney once, according to Thomas. Whitney went back to the bathroom, grabbed his clothes and left.
When Havelock police arrived, they followed a blood trail and located Whitney alive but unresponsive at the nearby Eastwood Apartment Complex. Whitney was transported to CarolinaEast Medical Center in New Bern and then to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, where he later died.
Thomas said that Whitney entered the apartment through an unlocked door.
“There had been a history of confrontations between Mr. Whitney and members of the Smith family, including one just a few days earlier at a convenience store in Havelock,” Thomas said in the release. “Mr. Smith previously told Mr. Whitney to stay away from the residence and from his family.”
Whitney was convicted of trespassing at the Smith family home in October 2013, serving time in jail.
“Mr. Smith reported fearing that Mr. Whitney might harm him as a result,” Thomas said. “The physical evidence at the scene, along with the witness statements gathered by police, the autopsy results and other information leads me to conclude that Mr. Smith’s actions were justifiable and that he acted in self-defense, given all of the facts and circumstances. It is an unfortunate and tragic event, but there does not appear to be a basis for criminal charges.”
Whitney had misdemeanor convictions for possession of a controlled substance and for wanton injury to personal property greater than $200 in Hyde County and had served a month and a half in jail in 2013, according to the N.C. Department of Corrections website.