Roommate found guilty of first-degree murder in Winston-Salem man’s death

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Landon Marcell Rader was found guilty of first-degree murder Tuesday afternoon. The verdict was announced shortly before 4 p.m.

In closing arguments earlier Tuesday, there was little dispute that Landon Marcell Rader killed his roommate, Jackie Edward Cates, on April 3, 2012.

The dispute was over whether it was self-defense or premeditated first-degree murder.

Prosecutors honed in on the fact that Cates was shot a total of nine times with a .22-caliber Ruger rifle, including seven times in the back of the head, while he was seated in his chair watching television.

David Rolfe/Journal

David Rolfe/Journal

At one point, Assistant District Attorney Patrick Weede clapped his hands for each shot that Rader is alleged to have fired at Cates. Assistant District Attorney Brian Taylor, during his closing arguments, pulled out a chair to represent the chair that Cates was sitting in when he was killed and took the .22-caliber Ruger rifle and pointed at the chair.

“He decided at that moment to pull the trigger, and then he decided to pull the trigger again and again and again until the only thing left was a dead body, a blood chair, a bloody floor, blood splatter on the wall and 10 shell casings,” Taylor said. “Then he turned off the television.”

Rader testified Friday that he shot Cates in self-defense after Cates angrily got in his face and appeared to threaten him with a beer bottle. Cates had sat down, and Rader testified that he got his gun from his bedroom and started firing.

Beth Toomes, Rader’s attorney, said in closing arguments that Cates had never been that aggressive before and Rader was in fear of his life. The physical evidence showed that Rader stood in one spot in the kitchen and fired, Toomes said.

Toomes also said that a .22-caliber Ruger rifle isn’t a powerful weapon and that Rader had to fire multiple times to stop Cates, whom he considered a threat at the time. Rader had a reasonable belief that his life was in danger and that he had to use deadly force, Toomes said.

The jury had the option to find Rader guilty of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter or find him not guilty by reason of self-defense. Upon conviction of first-degree murder, he faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.