ERNUL, N.C. (WNCT) — The wife of a man who was shot and killed in Craven County appeared in court Friday. She was given a $100,000 bond with electronic monitoring.
Sharon Whitford, 44, is facing an open court of murder in shooting death of her husband, Jimmy Whitford. Her next court date is scheduled for February 26.
Jimmy Whitford was shot and killed in a domestic-related altercation December 30 on 585 Aurora Road in Ernul, authorities said.
Craven County Sheriff Jerry Monette and District Attorney Scott Thomas requested a special prosecutor to handle the case.
Jimmy Whitford was, according to a memo from the prosecutor, a “lifelong friend” of Thomas, and Sharon Whitford was a longtime employee of the Clerk of Court of Craven County.
A Craven County deputy, Lt. Daniel Garden, was also involved with Sharon Whitford, according to the State Bureau of Investigation.
The State Bureau of Investigation is conducting the homicide investigation at the request of the Craven County Sheriff’s Office to avoid conflicts of interest.
Kimberly Overton, the special prosecutor, said evidence does not support criminal charges against Garden.
However, Craven County Sheriff Jerry Monette said he is conducting an internal investigation to determine if any departmental policies have been violated.
Garden has been placed on administrative leave while this investigation is ongoing.
Neighbors on Aurora Road said Jimmy Whitford lived there for years, and they are shocked by what happened.
“I could not believe that anybody would ever want to hurt him,” said neighbor Pam West.
She said she is devastated by his loss.
“He was the kind of person you would call a real friend, didn’t make enemies, just a laid back gentle kind of person,” West said.
West knew Jimmy Whitford since first grade.
“I think he was a little bit older than me, maybe two or three grades above me,” said West. “We had to ride the same school bus. He was a very, very nice person.”
For West, it’s been tough.
“I still cry about it,” she said. “I don’t think there has been anything like this that I can think of the whole time I have been here.”
She lived down the street from Jimmy her whole life.
“He lived over there for about, I would say, more than 20, more like 30 years, and he was a big part of this community,” West said. “Everybody has been in a sad mood since that happened.”
Other neighbors said they are surprised as well.
“It is scary because we thought they were a good family and they got along good, but you never know what happens inside the home, neighbors or anybody,” said Deborah Estrada, another neighbor.
West said she hopes there is justice for her classmate.
“Everybody deserves justice, but he deserves it, especially because he was a really really nice person, and he lived his whole life that way,” West said.