4 inmates charged with first-degree murder in NC attempted escape

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. – Four inmates who officials said attempted to escape from Pasquotank Correctional Facility on on October 12 have been charged in the deaths of two prison employees.

Correction Enterprises Manager Veronica Darden, 50, 
and Correctional Officer Justin Smith, 35. (DPS)

Two prison employees died and several others were injured, after inmates started a fire at the prison’s sewing plant. Several inmates attempted to escape following the fire, but officials said no inmates left the prison yard.

Justin Smith, a 35-year-old correctional officer and Veronica Darden, a 50-year-old correction enterprises manager, were identified as the two people killed.

Officials charged Wisezah Buckman, Seth J. Frasier, Mikel Brady and Jonathan M. Monk each with two counts of first-degree murder. The four inmates have all been transferred to other prisons.

Officials said all four were in prison for “serious charges” but officials would not elaborate on their records.

Pasquotank County District Attorney Andrew Womble said his office plans to prosecute the four inmates to the fullest extent of the law.

Womble said this is the “most serious matter I’ve ever prosecuted,”

“I can’t imagine these families, what they’re going through,” said Pasquotank County Sheriff Randy Cartwright.

Smith provided security in the sewing plant and had worked as a correctional officer since 2012.

Darden supervised inmates in the plant and worked with Correction Enterprises since 2007, previously working as a correctional officer.

More charges are expected in connection with the attempted escape.

In 2014, Brady pleaded guilty to the Feb. 18, 2013 shooting North Carolina State Trooper Michael Potts.

Potts was shot five times on U.S. Highway 70 in Durham and survived. He was making a routine traffic stop at the time.

Brady was sentenced to at least 24 years in prison after pleading guilty.

CBS North Carolina will update this story as it develops.