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Phone Threat Made Against Judge Disrupts Testimony In Borum Trial

John D. Simmons / Charlotte Observer
Rayquan Borum

A phone recording of Rayquan Borum making a threat against the judge in his murder trial was played in court Wednesday. Borum is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Justin Carr, who was shot during protests that followed the police shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott. 

The revelation of the recording stalled afternoon testimony.

A typical lunch break during a trial lasts about an hour and a half. Wednesday’s lunch break lasted about four hours. Judge Gregory Hayes said a legal matter needed to be addressed.

By the time Judge Hayes resumed his spot on the bench, it was about 3:45 p.m. The courtroom was full of reporters, the defendant and additional sheriff’s deputies. Many of those deputies were standing close to Judge Hayes and Borum. The jury was not present.

Prosecutor Glenn Cole said it was brought to the state’s attention during the morning break that a recorded jailhouse call had been placed by Borum on Feb. 20.

Cole explained that a copy of the recording was played in front of Judge Hayes, the defense and various law enforcement officials. He went on to play it for the courtroom. In the call, Borum asks the person on the other end to write down a name and to give the name to certain people because he had a trial coming up.

"G-R-E-G-O-R-Y spacebar H-A-Y-E-S," Borum said to the person on the phone.

"Say it again?" the person responded.

"Last name H-A-Y-E-S," Borum spelled again.

The name he spelled belonged to Judge Gregory Hayes. The number he called belonged to his mother, Gail Borum.

Defense Attorney Mark Simmons asked for two motions to be filed claiming it would be hard for Judge Hayes to remain impartial after hearing that call.

[Related Content: Borum Trial: Man Testifies Borum Threatened To Kill Him If He Went To Police]

“One is for a mistrial in this case," Simmons told the judge, "And the other is for your honor to recuse yourself."

Hayes denied the mistrial motion, saying Borum acted intentionally and knew the calls were being recorded. But out of an abundance of caution, he agreed to a recusal hearing during which Superior Court Judge William R. Bell will review that motion. That hearing is tentatively scheduled for Friday.

There will be no court Thursday because of a scheduling conflict Judge Hayes has that is outside of this case.

Before recessing for the day, Judge Hayes called the jury back. He stressed the importance of staying away from news reports and pointed out that the legal matter that took up the majority of the day would very likely be reported by local media but that it did not concern the jury. 

Sarah Delia is a Senior Producer for Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins. Sarah joined the WFAE news team in 2014. An Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist, Sarah has lived and told stories from Maine, New York, Indiana, Alabama, Virginia and North Carolina. Sarah received her B.A. in English and Art history from James Madison University, where she began her broadcast career at college radio station WXJM. Sarah has interned and worked at NPR in Washington DC, interned and freelanced for WNYC, and attended the Salt Institute for Radio Documentary Studies.