The first of three defendants in a 2016 double murder in southern Johnston County pleaded guilty on Thursday, April 1st. Under a plea agreement with the Johnston County District Attorney’s Office, Gerald Thomas Paul Jr., 26, of Erwin pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder in the March 10, 2016 shooting deaths of Matthew Jones and Jessica Pyatte. The victims were shot multiple times inside a singlewide mobile home on Unity Drive, Newton Grove.
Autopsy reports indicated two different weapons were used in the fatal shootings. Pyatte, 24, was shot seven times. Jones, 30, died from gunshot wounds to the head.
Paul was sentenced to a minimum of 18 years 6 months to a maximum of 23 years 4 months in prison.
Two other defendants are awaiting trial. Jeremy Kyle Price of Kenly and Tara Nicole Wilson of Dunn are awaiting trial for their alleged involvement.
In July 2015, Mr. Paul and Ms. Wilson were arrested on methamphetamine charges at the home of Mr. Paul’s mother in Erwin. Police reportedly found several bags of methamphetamine — totaling 2 grams — and drug paraphernalia in his room. A plastic bag containing meth was found on Ms. Wilson’s person.
In June 2015, just a month before her run-in with Erwin Police, Ms. Wilson, then 18 years old, was celebrating her graduation as valedictorian from Dunn’s Faith Education Academy.