Durham Herald Sun

It appears Beth Velliquette has taken over this story for the Herald Sun, after a brief vacation. I know Beth, and trust she will do the family justice in coverage.

No others expected to be held in deaths

May 26, 2005 : 7:15 pm ET

CHAPEL HILL — Police don’t expect to charge anyone as an accessory to the murder of James and Alison Sapikowski, Orange-Chatham District Attorney Jim Woodall says.

“I’ve not heard of anybody else being a suspect in any other way, so I don’t expect there to be any other charges,” Woodall said this week.

Police charged the couple’s son, Adam Sapikowski, on May 14 with two counts of first-degree murder. He is being held without bond in the Orange County Jail.

His girlfriend has retained Chapel Hill attorney Barry Winston. But she is at not at risk of being charged in connection with the murder, Winston said.

“I think there is not the slightest risk in the world,” he said.

James and Alison Sapikowski were found shot to death May 14 in their home on Whitley Drive near the Chapel Hill Country Club. James Sapikowski, 52, was shot three times in the head. His 49-year-old wife was shot once in the shoulder and once in the head.

Adam Sapikowski, who has just turned 17, has confessed to killing them, Chapel Hill police said.
The girlfriend did not know Sapikowski’s parents were dead until after police discovered the bodies, Winston said.

“Absolutely not,” he said.

Police believe Sapikowski killed his parents on the weekend beginning Friday, April 29. But the bodies, which were wrapped in blankets inside their home, weren’t discovered for two weeks.
A search warrant said a family member, unable to contact Adam Sapikowski or his parents, alerted police.

After officers went to the home and got no answer, they found a phone number for Adam’s girlfriend. The officers called her and asked if she knew where he was. She told them he had been staying at a hotel in Durham for about a week.

When officers learned that Sapikowski was then only 16, they called his older brother in Durham, who accompanied police to the hotel to pick up Adam.

The officers, Adam and his brother then drove to the house on Whitley Road, where they discovered the decomposing bodies of the parents.

After police discovered the bodies, Sapikowski confessed to killing them, police said.

On Saturday, May 21, the first day Sapikowski could have visitors since he was arrested, his girlfriend and three other friends had a brief visit with him at the jail, according to jail records. It was Sapikowski’s 17th birthday.

Orange County Sheriff Lindy Pendergrass, who runs the jail, said the teen is being held in a cell by himself because of his age. He can talk to but not see other inmates, who are housed in cells on each side of him, Pendergrass said.

“We’ve had no problems with Adam Sapikowski, no problems whatsoever,” Pendergrass said. “He does just like everybody does. He sits in his cell and watches TV.”

A probable cause hearing is scheduled for June 6. Sapikowski’s attorney is Orange-Chatham Public Defender James Williams.

During a probable cause hearing, the state lays out some of its evidence to show a District Court judge there is enough evidence to hold a defendant for trial in Superior Court. A defendant can waive the hearing. That is likely in the Sapikowski case, because he has confessed.

Police have declined to discuss exactly what they think happened inside the house. But use of a single-shot, .410 gauge shotgun could be an important element in proving first-degree murder.
The fact that Sapikowski had to reload the shotgun four times after the initial shot could be enough to convince a jury that he acted with a specific intent to kill.

A person’s state of mind while committing a homicide often is the key element for defense attorneys.

If the attorney can show the defendant didn’t have the intent to kill and did not premeditate the killing, a jury could find the person guilty of a lesser charge such as second-degree murder or manslaughter.

James and Alison Sapikowski owned or previously owned several businesses that involved gas and oil exploration and extraction and real estate. In addition to their Chapel Hill properties, they owned a home on a golf course in Scottsdale, Ariz., and homes in Michigan.


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