GRAHAM — A defendant representing himself brings up issues in a trial.
"I apologize, I have lapses in memory; I have post-traumatic stress disorder, and you, Mr. Neal, are one of my triggers," former Rockingham County Department of Social Services worker Carliethia Rosanna Glover testified under cross examination.
Christopher Lee Neal, 44, is not, apparently, accused of firing two shots into Glover's car late at night on June 13, 2017, near the Glen Raven Pharmacy on Webb Avenue, but of driving the dark blue BMW SUV from which the shots were fired, Assistant District Attorney Rick Champion said in his opening statement to the jury, telling jurors Neal attempted to kill Glover by aiding and abetting co-defendant Latanya Whetsell.
Whetsell, Champion said, made a deal with prosecutors Friday, and was officially added to the state's witness list Tuesday. Champion said she wanted to confront Glover "and get her," Champion said, and Neal "assisted her in those desires."
When he got his chance to speak to the jury, Neal called that "totally untrue and false," that the social worker lied, calling Whetsell just days after giving birth and telling her she was going to take her children.
It all started when marijuana was detected in the umbilical cord of Whetsell's and Neal's youngest child, born premature at Women's Hospital in Greensboro. That triggered an investigation by the Rockingham County Department of Social Services and the home visit Glover said led to a long frightening day and an attempt on her life.
Before starting her investigation, Glover met with her supervisors on June 12, 2017, because DSS had previously taken three other children from Whetsell's care before Glover had gone to work there.
"When we get a family that we've already had, then we discuss the case," Glover said.
Glover testified that she and another social worker, Emily Pulliam, went to the hospital together the next day, June 13, 2017, because they both had babies to check on in separate cases. The nurses told Glover the child was doing well, and her next step was a home visit to check on the other children and talk to the parents, in this case, to make sure drug abuse wasn't a problem.
Whetsell wasn't at the address DSS had for her. The man, who Neal said was his father, said she was there some of the time. He didn't give an address for her, but somewhat vague directions. Glover said she called Whetsell, but as soon as she identified herself as a social worker, she heard Whetsell say "Get the phone before I have to cuss her out," Glover testified.
Then she was talking to a man she later identified as Neal, who she said had a nasty tone, which was one of the first of at least a dozen things Neal objected to during Glover's testimony.
"'All I'm trying to do is see the kids,'" Glover remembers telling him, "then he goes on a rant."
As they headed back to the DSS office, Glover said, a dark blue BMW SUV started chasing them. Each time she said "chase," Neal objected, and Judge Tom Lambeth overruled him. She said it many times, describing the SUV speeding through busy streets in Reidsville and following them twice around the parking lot of a Bojangles'. They called 911, Glover said, and pulled into the parking lot of an elementary school.
Later they had a call from the Rockingham County DSS office in nearby Wentworth that Neal was there confronting another social worker, Glover said, so they went back to Bojangles' to eat lunch and wait for him to leave.
On cross examination, Neal asked Glover how he could have been chasing her in Reidsville if he was at the DSS office in Wentworth, and accused her of abusing the 911 system.
"You're crossing up the whole situation," Glover said.
At DSS, Glover had another meeting with supervisors and a lawyer. She called Whetsell on a speaker phone to get an address, telling her she had to see the children. The DSS lawyer gave her a 4:15 p.m. deadline or they would have to remove the children.
DSS staff also talked about a domestic-violence protective order Whetsell had taken out against Neal after a January 2016 incident in which she said he pulled a gun and pointed it at their children. Whetsell withdrew the order the same day.
Whetsell called back around 4:15 p.m., Glover said, and gave her an address. Glover wanted an escort from the Sheriff's Office before going to the house, but had to wait more than an hour because the day and night shifts were switching.
They got to the house after 6 p.m., Glover said, and she told Whetsell her other two children couldn't spend the night in the house with Neal. Whetsell eventually agreed to take them to her mother's, but Glover's supervisor said it was too late in the day. Neal arrived, and Glover said she could hear him shouting outside with the deputies. When he came in, Glover said, she was frightened and left the house with the children whom Whetsell put in the car for her.
Later at close to 10 p.m. at the DSS office, Neal drove up again in the blue BMW and confronted Glover again. The deputies with her got him to leave, and one of them escorted Glover to the Caswell County line. She said she was scared driving back to Burlington alone and got on the phone with her husband.
On Webb Avenue, she thought she was being followed. She stopped twice to let the vehicle pass and thought she was imagining it when it did, but the second time, it pulled around, Glover testified, and she recognized the blue BMW.
"I told my husband, 'it's him, it's Christopher Neal, call 911,'" she said.
Two shots came through her windows.
"I thought he shot me," Glover testified, crying hard.
Neal objected, and was overruled again.
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