N.C. 24 chase suspect charged in Sampson, Duplin

By: By Chris Berendt - cberendt@civitasmedia.com

By Chris Berendt



The man who led law enforcement on a high-speed chase through Duplin and Sampson counties that ended in a wreck at a busy Clinton intersection Tuesday has now received a slew of charges in both counties — even as more charges, perhaps the most serious, are still pending from a third county.

Ronald Lee Ennis Jr., 29, of Wilmington has been charged by Duplin County Sheriff’s authorities with several felonies, including fleeing to elude arrest, possession of a Schedule II controlled substance, possession of a stolen motor vehicle and maintaining a vehicle for the storage of a controlled substance, as well as possession of paraphernalia.

Additionally, the N.C. Highway Patrol in Sampson County charged Ennis with driving while impaired, careless and reckless, driving while license revoked, failing to stop at a stop light and speeding 110 mph in a 55 zone.

The charges stem from a pursuit that began around 11 a.m. Tuesday when Duplin County Sheriff’s deputies observed a white Honda Accord committing a traffic violation as it exited off of Interstate 40 at the Warsaw rest stop. They attempted to stop the vehicle as it continued eastbound on N.C. 24, at which point the Honda sped up and led deputies on a 15-mile pursuit into Clinton.

That chase ended abruptly at the intersection of Southeast Boulevard (U.S. 701) and Warsaw Road, when the Honda ran a stop light and plowed into a Toyota pickup owned by Sampson County. Highway Patrol Sgt. T.T. Daniels said the pickup was a county building inspector vehicle being driven by Marcus Branch of Clinton.

The sergeant said Ennis’ female passenger was 26-year-old Seanita Danielle Lewis of Durham. She was transported by Sampson County EMS to WakeMed in Raleigh with what Daniels termed “serious injuries.” Her condition was still unclear Wednesday.

Branch received medical attention for precautionary measures, but he was not transported to a hospital. Ennis was transported to Sampson Regional Medical Center, where he was medically evaluated and released into the custody of the Duplin County deputies.

Following the wreck, Lewis reportedly told rescue workers that she was kidnapped early Tuesday morning from Durham County.

According to Duplin Sheriff Capt. Tim Jones, Ennis is wanted for drug and assault warrants out of New Hanover and Durham counties. The kidnapping is being investigated.

Ennis is currently in the Duplin County Jail under $312,000 bond, Jones said Wednesday.

“I’m just thankful that no one else was hurt or killed because of this young man’s actions,” he remarked Tuesday.

On Wednesday, law enforcement officials confirmed that cocaine was found in the stolen vehicle and that Ennis was under the influence. Daniels said toxicology tests were still pending, but that there was enough evidence to bring the DWI charge. Jones, when asked whether alcohol or drugs was a factor, noted “I think it was a little bit of everything.”

According to the N.C. Department of Public Safety, Ennis has a lengthy rapsheet in Pender and New Hanover counties spanning 2002-12, including convictions on drug, weapons, assault, larceny and breaking and entering charges. His most recent conviction came in August 2012 in New Hanover County, when Ennis was sentenced for possession with intent to sell a Schedule II controlled substance, assault on an officer/state employee and possession of firearm by felon. He served a year and three months.

With nearly a dozen new charges in Sampson and Duplin already, Ennis could soon be facing more charges from two other counties, including outstanding warrants yet to be served, as well as a kidnapping investigation.

“Those are all still pending an investigation in Durham County,” Jones said.

Reach staff writer Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.

Reach staff writer Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.