July 15, 2010
Convicted killer's guilty plea will keep him off death row
Lisa Maves (left) was murdered by Kyle Berry in 1998. He later murdered Theresa Fetter
as a cover-up so she would not tell the police about the Maves murder. Berry pleaded
guilty to the Maves murder for the first time on Thursday in exchange for agreeing not to
appeal and the state not to pursue the death penalty. Contributed photos.
For the first time in 12 years, two families left the New Hanover County courthouse on
Thursday knowing they'll never have to face Kyle Berry again.
Click to enlarge
Kyle Berry appears in the New Hanover County courthouse on July 15. His death
sentence in the 1998 murder of Theresa Fetter was overturned and he is scheduled to
receive two life sentences without parole instead.
Photo by Paul Stephen
Also for the first time in 12 years, Berry, a 31-year-old Folk Nation gang leader twice
sentenced to death for his role in the brutal stabbing and beating of a 16-year-old girl,
accepted responsibility for his part in the fatal stabbing and beating of a 42-year-old
woman whose body washed up in Wrightsville Beach where she was vacationing.
Berry pleaded guilty to stabbing Raleigh resident Lisa Maves through her skull while she
drank alone at the beach on Sept. 17, 1998. Berry did not know Maves, a mother of four.
It was Maves' slaying that led Berry to join three other men when they attacked 16-year-
old Theresa Fetter, whose body was discovered Nov. 24, 1998, in a shallow grave behind
a day-care center in a wooded area near College Road at South 17th Street. Fetter was
killed because she knew about Maves' murder and Berry feared she would talk to the
Until Thursday, Berry had been charged in Maves' murder but never tried for it.
Berry was sentenced to consecutive life terms as part of a plea deal in exchange for the
state backing down from pursuing the death sentence a third time for Fetter's murder.
But as part of the guilty plea for killing Maves, Berry waived any possible appeals related
to either the conviction or his sentence in her case – an agreement crafted to prevent any
further legal wrangling after nine years of appeals in the Fetter case.
Wearing an orange New Hanover County jail jumpsuit and shackles on his ankles, Berry
sat with his attorneys while Maves' brother addressed the court.
"This was a senseless crime," said Sam Stout, pausing. He lowered his head. "Those two
girls didn't deserve to be brutally murdered."
For Fetter's family, it's the third time they've had to sit in court to watch Berry be
sentenced. Fetter's mother ordered Berry to look at her when she spoke. He turned his
head to face her when she said, "Please look at me."
"You made me watch my daughter die over and over, and still my family carries her
torch," she said in a strong, steady voice. "I know you don't care. Today is my daughter's
day. Today is Lisa Maves' day. This will never be your day. Today, it ends."
A random killing
Maves was visiting Wrightsville Beach and staying in a condo on Columbia Street with
her boyfriend and another friend. While the two went to the grocery store, Maves took a
stroll on the beach with a bottle of vodka.
A couple walking on the beach reported they saw Maves wearing a black lace bra and
jeans talking to a man.
Before long, surfers found Maves' body washed up onshore.
A deep cut penetrated her skull into her brain, and she had bruises on her throat and body.
Investigators pieced together clues about Maves' death from Berry's friends and jail
inmates Berry had boasted to about the crimes.
While the stories varied slightly, a common theme emerged – that Berry had stabbed
Maves in the head.
"Stab wounds to the head are extremely unusual," said prosecutor Dru Lewis, who
worked on the case.
One of Berry's friends, Bobby Autry, connected him to the slayings of Maves and Fetter.
Autry used to date Fetter.
He told investigators that Berry and a friend, Jon Malonee met Maves on the beach, and
that she had told them she had had a fight with her boyfriend.
"Autry said the defendant told him Lisa looked depressed, so he eliminated her pain by
stabbing her in the head after he and Malonee kicked and beat her," Lewis said. "The
defendant told Autry that the knife got stuck in her skull. After dislodging the knife, the
defendant and Malonee dragged the body into the ocean and let it go."
Investigators also talked to another friend of Berry's who told them that he saw Berry the
night of the Maves murder at the Harris Teeter near Wrightsville Beach. The friend said
Berry told him that he and Malonee stole a car, which they later ditched near the
Blockade Runner hotel at the beach.
When police found the car, it had been vandalized and tagged with gang graffiti,
including Berry's street name, "Crazy K."
Lewis said that when investigators found the car, the spray paint was still wet, and he
believes Berry and Malonee were likely in the process of killing Maves.
Malonee, 28, is serving a 14- to nearly 18-year sentence after pleading guilty to second-
degree murder in Maves' killing.
The knives used to kill Maves and Fetter have never been recovered, Lewis said.
Stout said his sister loved tanning and the beach, and he said she had three other sisters.
"She was a friend to everyone," said Stout's wife, Julianne. "She loved the outdoors and
she loved her family. We really have missed her in our lives."
A cover-up murder
After Maves was killed, Autry told Fetter about the murder.
So Berry and three of his friends, including Autry, stabbed and beat her to death weeks
before her body was discovered.
Berry's role was that he stabbed her in the skull with a knife, cutting himself badly in the
process. While he called 911 because of his wound, the rest of the men continued to beat
Fetter, using metal pipes to strike the blows. But she didn't die right away.
Evidence in Berry's trial showed that after her attackers left, Fetter crawled a short
distance and died.
Autry later told investigators the location of Fetter's body and led them to where they had
Joshua Whitney, Malonee and Autry all pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in
Fetter's beating and are in prison serving their sentences.
Though Berry was sentenced to die, a N.C. Supreme Court ruling in December 2002
raised questions about the sentencing instructions given to jurors who heard the case, and
he was given another sentencing hearing.
In March of 2004, he was sentenced to death a second time, but again successfully
appealed when the case was returned to Superior Court here.
Berry's second death sentence for Fetter's murder was overturned earlier this year by a
trial judge because his defense attorneys weren't given enough time to research his mental
history when jurors were deciding his fate. Berry was adopted as an infant, but his
biological family had a history of mental problems.
"It's bittersweet," said Fetter's father, Carl Fetter, smoking a cigarette outside of the
courthouse before the hearing. "On the one hand, it's finally over. We don't ever have to
worry about it anymore. On the other hand, we feel he's not actually getting what he
But after 12 years, it's finally over.
Veronica Gonzalez: 343-2008
On Twitter.com: @StarNewsCrime
Judge recused as Berry tries to avoid
By Chris Mazzolini
Staff Writer Friday, April 11, 2008
Theresa Fetter's family is still searching for closure nearly 10 years after she was
murdered by Kyle Berry.
After Thursday's hearing in New Hanover County Superior Court - the latest in Berry's
seven-year legal odyssey to save his own life - the Fetters aren't any closer to justice.
In an unusual turn of events, Judge Ronald E. Spivey, who was set to decide whether
Berry's death sentence should be reduced to life in prison, was forced to remove himself
from the case because of his knowledge of the jury's deliberations in Berry's 2004
It remained unclear Thursday when the case would move forward again. The motion to
recuse Spivey said the hearing should be postponed until the court system can find
Berry has been fighting his death sentence since 2001, when a jury found him guilty of
killing Fetter in 1998.
Berry appealed. While the North Carolina Supreme Court upheld the guilty verdict, the
justices ruled that Berry should have another sentencing hearing.
The justices said the judge mistakenly allowed jurors to use Berry's alleged involvement
in the previous murder of Lisa Maves, a 42-year-old Raleigh woman, to determine if
Berry had displayed a history of violence, which could be used in sentencing.
But Berry was again sentenced to death in the 2004 hearing, which Spivey presided over.
This week, Spivey presided over a hearing on whether Berry's sentence should be
reduced. The hearing was granted after Berry's defense team filed a motion in N.C.
Supreme Court arguing that the jury in the 2004 resentencing hearing was denied hearing
evidence that mental illness ran in Berry's biological family. Berry was adopted.
That evidence, Berry's lawyers argue, could have swayed at least one juror to vote for
During closing arguments on Tuesday, defense attorney Marilyn Ozer and Spivey
exchanged comments about the jury's deliberation in the 2004 sentencing hearing,
specifically about whether the jury struggled with imposing the death sentence.
According to court transcripts, Ozer said: "I'm sure they were doing their job and going
through it methodically. But the reason-"
"Isn't it equally possible they just had one vote?" Spivey countered.
"That is possible," Ozer said. "We don't know."
"Keep in mind," Spivey replied, "you're talking to the person that talked to the jury right
after they finished their deliberations."
That comment was enough for Berry's lawyers to file a motion Wednesday for Spivey to
be removed from the case. Judge John E. Nobles was called in to decide if Spivey should
Berry's lawyers argued that Spivey was no longer impartial and objective since he had
first-hand knowledge of the jury's deliberations. Assistant District Attorney Todd Fennell
called the motion "ridiculous" and said it was an "outrage to question Judge Spivey."
But after the brief arguments and a brief deliberation, Nobles returned, promptly accepted
the defense motion and immediately recessed the court.
Berry was not in court Thursday because he waived his right to appear, but Carl Fetter,
Theresa Fetter's father, let out a long sigh and dropped his head into his hands after
hearing the decision.
"It means we'll have to go through it again," he told reporters after the hearing. "Two
juries convicted him and two juries sentenced him to death. How many more times does
Fetter then went upstairs to Fennell's office, to discuss what happens next.
Chris Mazzolini: 343-2223 email@example.com