COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — On day two of the Allen Strickland arson retrial jurors heard from several witnesses including an agent with the State Bureau of Investigation. Megan Kwalick interviewed Strickland hours after the July 2009 fire. In that conversation Strickland told Agent Kwalick about his financial connection with former state Senator R.C. Soles.
The interview started with Strickland telling the agent about the morning of the fire. Strickland said about an hour and half before he was awakened by smoke, someone had been knocking on his door; he saw no one outside. Later in the discussion, Strickland told Kwalick that people would often come to his home and ask for money. Strickland added that a week before the fire a man named Joey Hammons had banged on his door and demand money like the others. Hammons is the brother of B.J. Wright; a former legal client of Soles. In the post fire interview Strickland also told the agent that people stopped at his home and asked for money because they knew Soles would consistently give him cash. The teen also said that the senator would give money to about 30 others. Strickland also admitted that soles payed for his home and car, a Chevrolet Corvette.
During cross examination the defense asked Agent Kwalick if the SBI looked for any other suspects after it made Strickland a suspect in the arson. The agent said “no.” She added that the SBI stopped looking for suspects after fire investigators found the origin of the fire which was the couch in Strickland’s living room.
The trial resumes Wednesday morning.