Jury considers Warren County home invasion, murder case

4 April 2022

— Four years after a Lake Gaston home invasion, robbery, arson and murder, the case against Lester Kearney goes to a jury Tuesday morning. A Warren County jury listened for two weeks to testimony in the case, which wrapped up with closing arguments Monday afternoon. 

Rev. John Alford was beaten and tied up, and his home set on fire. He escaped, but his wife, Dr. Nancy Alford, a local psychologist, died. 

Lester Kearney, 36, was arrested and charged in the attack after Kevin Munn, who pleaded guilty to the murder of Nancy Alford a month after the crime, turned him in to authorities.

Kearney has maintained his innocence, and his attorneys say his cell phone places him 20 minutes away from the murder scene. Investigators found no physical evidence linking him to the crime.

Munn, who was to testify against Kearney as part of his plea deal, overdosed before the trial began last month. He remains hospitalized and was never called for that testimony.

In his testimony, John Alford, 84, identified Kearney as the man who broke into his home. Defense attorneys questioned that identification because the intruder had his face at least partially covered. 

Judge Henry Hight will give the jury instructions Tuesday morning. Then, they will deliberate whether Kearney is guilty or not guilty of multiple charges.

Kearney faces the death penalty if convicted.

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