Tears were flowing heavy inside a Lincoln County courtroom Friday morning as family members of murdered Lincolnton couple Mike and Bonnie Vincent listened emotion-filled while Judge K. D. Black told accused killer Wilbert Lester Fair he could face life in prison or the death penalty, if convicted.
Fair sat slumped in a chair wearing an orange jumpsuit and hand shackles during the first appearance.
The 43-year-old suspect, who lives on Cloverleaf Lane, a short distance from the victims’ Broome Street home, is accused of killing the couple last month inside their residence, police said.
Justin Lester, a neighbor and friend of the victims, found the bodies the morning of July 26 after he knocked on the couple’s door and received no reply, he told detectives.
The suspect’s family proved dumbfounded over the situation while talking to the Times-News Friday morning at the courthouse.
One of Fair’s many siblings, Rosetta Kerns, along with his aunt, bondsman and other family members said they believe Fair is incapable of such a violent crime, despite his lengthy criminal record.
“My brother wouldn’t kill a cat,” Kerns said. “There’s more to it than what’s going on.”
While she admitted her brother might steal and get in trouble for other “petty stuff,” she’s convinced that he “ain’t no cold-blooded killer.”
Kerns, who called Fair her “baby,” are their family’s two middle siblings and share a close relationship, she said.
Family members said they fully support Fair and have no doubt he’s currently “taking the rap” for someone else.
“Whomever he’s covering for, I pray to God they find them,” Kerns said.
Police have yet to release details on a number of case items including what day the couple died, how they died and a motive for the murder.
Hester told the Times-News he found the couple’s bodies together inside their home, Mike bent over a coffee table with blood streaming down his back, and Bonnie with an injury to her face.
Police have not confirmed Hester’s description of the scene.
According to the North Carolina Department of Correction website, Fair has a history of criminal activity in Iredell, Lincoln, Henderson and Mecklenburg Counties since the 1980s.
Convictions include at least 10 felonies for breaking and entering, larceny, receiving stolen goods, receiving stolen vehicles and multiple drug-related infractions, NC DOC listed.
Marty Shuford, of Lewis & Shuford, P.A., in Lincolnton, is temporarily serving as Fair’s criminal defense attorney.
Fair is being held in the Harven A. Crouse Detention Center without bond. His second court appearance is set for Aug. 22.
Lincolnton Police detectives along with the State Bureau of Investigation are heading an ongoing investigation into the city’s first homicide case of 2012.