NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Trial began this morning for the man accused of kidnapping a 6-year-old in New Hanover County in 2016.
Twelve jurors and three alternates were chosen from Sampson County for the trial of Douglas Edwards.
According to search warrants, Edwards, a convicted sex offender, admitted to taking the girl from the front yard of her home off of Carolina Beach Road.
Edwards is now charged with a felony county of intimidating a witness. He also faces charges for attempted murder, kidnapping and indecent liberties with a child among other counts.
Opening statements begin first. The ADA summed up what happened and who would be testifying. The ADA also said she was tethered to the ground so she couldn’t stand up. The ADA showed jury the chain that he said was wrapped around her neck twice.
The defense told the jury they agree with most of what the DA said except for some of the charges. The defense said the DA overcharged and Edwards is not guilty of everything he is charged with.
The child’s mother took the stand for the state first.
The mother has three kids and has lived in Wilmington for 10 years.
Mom starts describing what she was doing on September 14, 2016. She said her son was inside who was doing his homework. She said she was outside playing with her two daughters. She said her son kept yelling “Mom, help me with my homework please.”
The mother said she asked her daughters to come inside, but they did not want to. She said she went inside and left the door open for the girls. The mother said she sat down and started looking at her son’s homework and then one of her daughters came running in saying a man had taken her sister.
The mother said she grabbed her cell phone and ran around the house looking for her daughter, but she was not there. Then, she said she called police. Mother said she spoke with police that night.
The mom said the next time she saw her daughter was the following day at the hospital.
The prosecutor asked the mom to tell them about her child’s sleeping habits after this happened. The mother said her child does not sleep well. She also said her daughter is always on guard especially around men. She said the child thinks men are all bad.
Mom said before the child was always sharing and gracious and always noticing people around her. Now the mom said, the child does not want to be outside.
Master Deputy Timothy Hudson with the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office took the stand next. Hudson responded to the child’s home after the first 911 call was made.
Hudson said he began interviews with the family. He said they had some kind of suspect description and initially a motorcycle description. He said it took about 10 or 20 minutes before they had a new description of a moped.
Hudson said several other deputies and detectives began looking. They also set up a command center for this case.
Then, the state called Detective Gina Jones with New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office to the stand. Jones said she got to the victim’s house around 5:00 p.m. on Sept. 14, 2016. She said there were a lot of people there and lots of chaos.
After court took a break for lunch, a witness who lives in Carolina Beach, Marty Rivenbark, took the stand. Rivenbark told the court he doesn’t know Edwards but knew of him from working with his previously.
Rivenbark testified that he was by Walmart when he noticed a moped with a girl frolicking like she was bout to fall off, wrestling with the driver and he knew something was wrong.
During questioning, the defense said Rivenbark’s testimony is different than what he originally told police.
Sgt. Larry Ward with Carolina Beach Police then took the stand and described where he sent his officers to search for the girl. About an hour after the “BOLO” was issued, he saw a white male on a moped and reported it as suspicious. He stopped Edwards and asked him where he was coming from. Ward testified that Edwards told him he was coming from work and heading to the store to buy cigarettes for his mother.
Ward said Edwards allowed him to take his picture, which he then sent to fellow officers/detectives and ran his plates. Ward told the court that at the time, he didn’t believe Edwards was a suspect because the “BOLO” was for a black or hispanic male.
After he let Edwards go, Ward testified that he thought to himself, “Did we let him slip through our fingers?”
When asked by the defense how Edwards was when he pulled him over, Ward said he was polite.
Another Carolina Beach Police Officer took the stand and testified he pulled Edwards over once he crossed the Snows Cut bridge.
Lisa Hudson with New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office then testified she came down to speak with Edwards and asked if he would come to the detection division for an interview.
The day ended with the jury watching a video of that interview.