The state will seek the death penalty if Jeremy Russom is convicted of killing two people in Zionville last fall, assistant district attorney Charlie Byrd said Monday.
Russom, 27, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the Nov. 22, 2010, deaths of Heather Jolene Baumgardner and Barry Wayne Cook at Baumgardner's home on Mabel School Road.
Baumgardner was the mother of Russom's two children, and Cook was her friend.
Russom was arrested about four hours after the shoot ing and after running from officers near Country Retreat Family Billiards in the Foscoe community. He was issued a
$10 million secured bond.
Russom, who has been in jail since his arrest, appeared in court Monday afternoon for the hearing. He was calm and quiet throughout the 10-minute process, whispering occasionally with his court-appointed attorney, Garland Baker.
Several sheriff's deputies provided additional security in the courtroom during the proceeding, and they asked that no one leave their seats during that time. Dozens of family members and friends of Baumgardner, Cook and Russom watched the process from the benches.
To seek the death penalty, the prosecution must show that one or more of 11 aggravating circumstances outlined in state law were present in the case.
Byrd said the state believed that the murder was part of a course of conduct by the defendant that included other acts of violence, one of the 11 qualifying circumstances, adding that others might also apply.
If Russom were convicted, a jury would decide in a separate proceeding whether he would face death or life imprisonment.
Judge Phil Ginn also accepted Byrd's request to revoke Russom's bond, although he did not preclude the possibility of a bond hearing later.
Baker also indicated in court that Ashe County attorney Don Willey would likely serve as a co-counsel in the case.
Russom's case will be heard next at an administrative court session April 18, where a judge will hear any pre-trial motions, Baker said outside the courtroom.
A trial will probably not occur until fall or winter, he added.
The last three months have taken an emotional toll on those who knew the victims and accused.
"It's just a bad situation for all the families," said Jeremy's father, Tim Russom, who drove from Mountain City, Tenn., to attend the hearing Monday.
"To be perfectly honest, I don't know any more today than I did the day it happened," he said.
Tim Russom said he has visited Jeremy in jail several times and speaks frequently to Baumgardner's mother to check on their young grandchildren.
He said he also called Cook's sister a few days after his death. Russom didn't reach her, but he spoke with her husband, he said.
"I was tore all to pieces," Tim Russom said. "I told him, I'd give my world to change it."