Driver Who Killed 4 People, Injured 3 Others Sentenced To Prison

A Johnston County man was sentenced to serve a maximum of 6 years in prison on Thursday.  Jimmy Pearce II, 41, of the 11000 block of Highway 39 North, Zebulon entered a guilty plea to four counts of manslaughter and three counts of assault with a deadly weapon.

In July 2015, Pearce was engaged in a speed competition with another vehicle on Simon Road. Pearce lost control of his 1989 Ford Mustang and struck a group of spectators watching the illegal drag race.

The four people killed were Undra Montrell Taybron, 40; Garland Earp, 39; Carlton Ray Brooks, 32; and Arrington Earp, 23.

Three others, Ida Mae Rapa of River Road, Selma; Roncellis Marshall, 44, of Battleboro; and Larry Deans, 43, of Bailey were seriously hurt.

Pearce had originally been charged with second-degree murder.

During Thursday’s court proceedings in Smithfield, Pearce apologized and accepted responsibility for his actions. He will serve a minimum of 3-1/2 to no more than 6 years in the NC Department of Corrections.

The Highway Patrol has never been able to identify the second driver involved in the drag race.

At the time of the 2015 incident, unconfirmed reports suggested a large group of people had been meeting for the past five Sunday nights along Simon Road for illegal street racing and that betting was involved.¬†Dozens of people were watching the race when the fatal mishap occurred. However, troopers nor sheriff’s deputies were never made aware of racing on the rural roadway near the Nash County line. 2015 photos by JoCoFire.com