Pandemic creates backlog of homicide cases; families wait for closure

Pandemic creates backlog of homicide cases; Families wait for closure

CHARLOTTE — The pandemic has stalled a Charlotte family’s hope for justice after Samuel Stitts was shot and killed one year ago in a northeast Charlotte apartment.

Stitt, who was 23, went to the Somerset Apartments, on Aug. 8, 2019 to pick up his son.

[PAST COVERAGE: Man found shot to death inside northeast Charlotte apartment]

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“He was on the phone with my brother, his uncle, when my brother says he heard Sam say, ‘Close the door,’ then the phone went dead,” said Sylvia Smith, Stitt’s mother.

“He didn’t do drugs,” Michael Smith said. “He didn’t rip around the streets. He didn’t have a beef with anyone. Nobody had any reason to do this.”

The pandemic has stalled a Charlotte family’s hope for justice after Samuel Stitts was shot and killed one year ago in a northeast Charlotte apartment.
The pandemic has stalled a Charlotte family’s hope for justice after Samuel Stitts was shot and killed one year ago in a northeast Charlotte apartment.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has not made an arrest and the COVID-19 pandemic has hampered the open case.

“With regard with getting access to individuals, they would be looking to speak with,” Sylvia Smith said.

“So, there’s been some challenges. I understand there.”

Many homicide cases with suspects identified and charged aren't moving forward either.

The courts have limited operations and cannot hold any jury trials, because of the coronavirus.

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“The backlog the pandemic is going to create is just going to exacerbate the problem that already exists in North Carolina with resources going to courts,” said Bruce Lillie, assistant district attorney.

Prosecutors will not reach their initial goal of trying 20 homicide cases this year and can't predict how many will happen because of the uncertainty involving the virus, Lillie said.

Prosecutors hope jury trials will resume in October.

In the meantime, Stitt’s family is determined to make a positive difference.

They’re creating two foundations in their son’s honor: the Samuel Harrison Stitt Foundation and SAM, which will use his name to encourage Solidarity Among Mankind and to stop the violence and guide Charlotte’s youth to a positive future.

Police: Man found shot to death inside northeast Charlotte apartment