Family of suspect in 2018 Warren County fire, murder says he's innocent

LITTLETON, NC (WTVD) -- The family of a Warren County man accused of a violent home invasion that killed a pastor's wife is expressing concern that he will not get a fair and just trial.

Lester Kearney is scheduled to go on trial this week for the 2018 death of 76-year-old Nancy Alford.

Investigators said Alford, and her husband, the Rev. John Alford, arrived at their residence overlooking Lake Gaston to find two men inside their home.

The men forced Nancy Alford to withdraw money from an ATM before tying her and her husband up and setting fire to their house.

John Alford survived but was badly burned.

During a virtual news conference, Emancipate NC said that overwhelming evidence points to Kearney's innocence.

The activist group said there is proof that Kearney was not at the scene of the crime when it happened.

James Kearney, a former sheriff's sergeant and Lester Kearney's uncle, said his nephew is innocent and that black men like him have struggled for years.

"I have been profiled as an officer. I've been pulled over as an officer for no reason, so it happens," James Kearney said. "It happens all the time, every day. But this time, we're not going to stand for it."

The second suspect in the case, Kevin Munn, has already pleaded guilty to first-degree murder to avoid a possible death sentence.

He's also agreed to testify against Kearney.

Kearney's mother said her son has been in solitary confinement for the last four years.

He's currently in the Franklin County Jail.

Jury selection in this trial begins Wednesday. Kearney could face the death penalty if convicted.
Copyright © 2022 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.