Craven Co. wife accused of murdering husband in court

Sharon Whitford, the Craven County wife accused of murdering her husband, is in court for the second time this week. (Aisha Mbowe, NewsChannel 12 photo)

A Craven County wife accused of murdering her husband was in court this morning for the second time this week.

Sharon Whitford, 44, was arrested Tuesday afternoon and charged with an open count of murder in the death of her husband, Jimmy Whitford, 51. The shooting happened at the couple's home on Aurora Road in Ernul on Dec. 30.

In court on Friday, Sharon Whitford showed up in a bullet proof vest. The Defense argued that Sharon was acting in self-defense at the time of the shooting and medical records were provided. They also claimed she was not in custody initially for 40 days, so she should not be considered a flight risk.

The Defense described Whitford as a mother and valued North Carolina employee who has no criminal history besides a DWI in 1994. They said she voluntarily gave police her statements and has not been interviewed by the SBI. It was mentioned that Whitford suffered severe lacerations to her head and that she was shot at several times, with a bullet hitting her on her shoulder.

The Defense argued that it was Jimmy who initiated a violent confrontation and that he was the one who called the man Sharon was having an affair with. Jimmy allegedly also called the daughter, and it was said she could hear her mother screaming. They claim there was a struggle over the gun.

The Defense also pulled out pictures of Sharon Whitford's injuries. A deputy said that when he arrived, there was substantial blood in the house. Sharon had also allegedly left the house because some of Jimmy's family members were there. The Defense also said that Whitford needs to see doctors, including a neurologist, for symptoms associated with her injuries.

The State contested some of the Defense's statements. They said the first person on the scene was Brian Whitford, Jimmy's brother, who Jimmy called shortly after the incident saying "the b**** shot me." It was stated that Jimmy had not called 911, but Brian did. Brian allegedly cautiously entered the home, called out for Sharon several times, but didn't hear anything except his brother calling out for help.

The State argued that Sharon did not call 911. She was allegedly holding her phone at the time of the incident, but did not get him assistance. They said that Sharon was questioned twice, but never said anything about being kicked. They also mentioned that Sharon had to pass two exits in the house in order to get her gun from another room before going back to the bedroom to shoot her husband.

Three rounds hit Jimmy -- one in his left knee, another in his right hip, and another in his stomach, the State said. They argued that Sharon is familiar with firearms, but she told deputies she blindly fired the gun. They also claimed Sharon had no recollection of what she did with the gun, and deputies found it neatly put away in an office. They argued because Sharon was only arrested on Tuesday, so the argument that she was not considered a flight risk in those initial 40 days should not matter.

The State asked for a $1 million bond with the conditions that Sharon should have no contact with the family of Jimmy Whitford, including his brother, sister and Jimmy's daughter. They also wanted the judge to make sure Sharon would take a specific route so she could not drive past Jimmy's brother's home.

After everything was said, the judge set Whitford's bond at $100,000 and her next court date is set for February 26, 2018. She posted bond and will be subject to electronic monitoring and is to have no contact with Jimmy's family members, including his brother, sister and daughter Hailey, as well as their respective families. She is also prohibited from driving near the home of Jimmy's brother.

All of Whitford's firearms were ordered to be surrendered. She is prohibited from getting a passport and is not allowed to buy any future guns, as her hand gun permit will be suspended.

Whitford's arrest came a little over a week after warrants were issued that suggest investigators were building a murder case against Whitford. The case is being handled by the State Bureau of Investigation because Whitford was a former employee of the Craven County Clerk of Courts.

Craven County Sheriff's Office Lieutenant Dan Garden is also involved in the case. Search warrants obtained by NewsChannel 12 show the State Bureau of Investigation is seeking Garden's phone records for the last six months of 2017 in connection with the murder.

Garden told investigators he and Sharon Whitford were having a sexual relationship. According to warrants, Sharon Whitford told investigators she had texted Garden the day of the murder. Her phone, however, showed no such texts. Investigators say there were inconsistencies in Garden and Whitford's statements about the nature and timing of their relationship.

CCSO said Wednesday afternoon that they have placed Garden on administrative leave pending a review of his actions. The special prosecutor in the case, Kimberly Overton, wrote in a memo that she had reviewed the details of the investigation and found "the evidence does not support criminal charges against Lieutenant Garden."

Many of Jimmy Whitford's family members were in the courthouse for Sharon's second appearance of the week. NewsChannel 12 reporters are at the courthouse working to get more details on the case.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off