Claremont man pleads guilty to murder of 'Good Samaritan'

Staff Writer

A Claremont man will spend at least 14 years in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder in the January 2016 shooting death of a Newton resident during a heavy snowstorm.

Marvin Jacob Lee, 29, was sentenced to an active prison term of 14 to 19 years following his plea to the murder charge for the death of 26-year-old Jefferson Lee Heavner and two counts of discharging a weapon into an occupied vehicle during Catawba County Superior Court on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018.

The Honorable Daniel A. Kuehnert, Superior Court Judge from Burke County, imposed the prison term for Lee, who will serve his sentence in custody of the North Carolina Division of Adult Corrections.

“It’s a just result; it’s still a tragic result,” Judge Kuehnert said as he encouraged the defendant to help others as he moved forward with his life.

Members of the Heavner family and law enforcement agreed with the plea arrangement.

Lee shot and killed Heavner during a heavy snowstorm that blanketed the area on Jan. 22, 2016. According to the investigation by the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office, Lee’s vehicle stalled in the snow on Mathis Church Road in the Bandys community of southeast Catawba County, and Heavner stopped with some friends to assist.

Witnesses indicated that the defendant appeared to be impaired, and one of them reached inside the car and took the keys out of the ignition. When that happened, Lee exited the vehicle, pulled out a handgun and opened fire.

Several shots struck Heavner, causing him to fall in the snow before he was hit by more shots from Lee. Other shots were fired into vehicles of those who stopped to assist the defendant.

Members of the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office STAR Team arrived on scene and took notice that Lee appeared to be passed out in the vehicle. They extracted the defendant from the vehicle and took him into custody.

An autopsy performed at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem revealed Heavner’s cause of death to be a result of multiple gunshot wounds to his torso and extremities.

Heavner’s mother, Lena Eidson, was one of several family members to address the Court and the defendant.

“My boy is gone, and I can’t bring him back. There’s nothing done here today that can change that,” she said. “In order for my life to go on without my little boy, I have to forgive, and I do. I forgive the person that took my son’s life.

“I want justice to be done as much as the law will allow. I forgive you, Marvin Jacob Lee, and I will pray for your soul every day.”

Lt. Aaron Turk was the lead investigator for the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office. Kyle Smith prosecuted the case for the District Attorney’s Office.