The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)


March 28, 2014

Murder trial begins

Jury hears potential motive in slayings

Thursday, March 27, 2014 — On the opening day of the trial of a man accused of double homicide, jurors heard a possible motive and saw the weapon used.

Tuesday marked the start of the 5-year-old case against Gary W. Sells, 76, charged with the March 8, 2009 shooting deaths of Shirley Inez Rummage, 73, and her son, Ricky Dale Lowder, 48, at their 528 N. First St., Albemarle, residence.

An emotional Wanda Rummage choked back tears as she talked about her slain mother and uncle. During the questioning by Assistant District Attorney Marsha Goodenow, Rummage described a domestic powder keg that ended with the double slaying.

“She wanted him (Sells) out of her house,” Rummage said during her testimony.

Sells, a former boyfriend of Shirley Rummage, was still living in her house along with her son, Lowder, and grandson, Chris Smith.

Wanda Rummage testified that Sells despised Lowder and resented him living under the same roof.

“He was always making comments on my brother,” she said.

“He said ‘he wasn’t worth living’ and that ‘I (Sells) should kill him.’

“Gary had issues with Ricky eating there,” Rummage added.

“He didn’t want him at the table. He didn’t want my brother there.”

Sells’ opinion of Lowder concerned Shirley Rummage, her daughter testified.

“She was afraid he was going to kill him,” Rummage said.

She explained to the jury of seven women and five men, selected Monday, that she planned to move back home to help her mother financially, provided the others living there would have to move. Wanda Rummage planned to move in within two weeks of the killings.

“She never made it the two weeks,” Rummage said.

Jurors got a look at the .45-caliber handgun police say was used to kill the mother and son.

Neighbor and family acquaintance Thomas M. Shepard testified that he and his wife drove Shirley Rummage and Sells to a gun show in Charlotte where the defendant purchased the weapon.

Shepard told jurors Sells would sometimes pawn the gun to him in exchange for $100 whe he was short of cash. Sells would later retrieve the pistol with a payment of $125.

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