RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Friends describe Keonte Gause as the heart and soul of Raleigh's Helping Hand Missions Marching Band.
"When they see Keonte. They'd say oh, it's on now. It's on and poppin' now," said Silvia Wiggins, his friend.
But Sunday, police found the 34-year-old drum major dead.
His body was discovered by authorities inside his car at Denny's off Wake Forest Road.
Wiggins runs Helping Hand Mission, a charity where Gause would often lend a hand.
"To think that somebody would hurt somebody with a heart of gold; if they had talked it out, if it's anything they wanted, if he had to loan you something ... he was that kind of person. Always giving," Wiggins said.
On Tuesday, 19-year-old Samojeh Miley, accused of killing Gause, faced a judge.
In an exclusive interview with ABC11, Miley's mother, Michelle Thomas, said her son is innocent.
"That's my baby, and they're ragging him out. They're ragging him out to be a piece of crap. And he's not a piece of crap. He's a gifted child," Thomas said. "Whoever did this they need to come forward so my son can be let go."
Miley is in jail without bond.
Thomas told ABC11 that although she does not know where her son was the morning the investigators found Gause's body, she said her son had just started a new job and would not have jeopardized that opportunity.
Miley appears in court May 29. If convicted, he could face life in prison or the death penalty.
Exclusive: Mom reacts after son accused of killing Helping Hands drum major