Defendant facing 20-to-life in prison for brother’s death

Published 5:15 pm Sunday, January 31, 2016


Deputies on the scene the day of the murder.


It took less than an hour for a Covington County jury to convict a Carolina man of killing his brother in 2012.

Jurors found Clarence Alvin Norris guilty of the murder of Cleve Wayne Norris.

Cleve Norris was found dead inside a barn on the family’s property on Bass Bridge Road with a gunshot wound to the chest from a .30-06.

Clarence had previously entered a plea of not guilty.

Testimony at the trial revealed that Clarence made contradictory statements to paramedics, to Coroner Norman Hobson and he told investigators Wesley Snodgrass and Howard West different stories before claiming that Cleve tried to kill him with a bush axe and he shot him in self-defense.

A forensic pathologist with the state department of forensics, Dr. Steven Dunton, gave testimony that repudiated Clarence’s final version of what happened.

The evidence collected at the crime scene also did not match any of Clarence’s other stories, testimony showed.

Law enforcement found Cleve’s body in a pool of blood and by his left arm was a bush axe, almost completely blood-free.

Dunton, who performed the autopsy, said that it would have taken a few minutes for Cleve to lose consciousness and then a few more minutes for him to die.

“After Clarence Norris shot his brother, he watched him struggle for air and die,” said District Attorney Walt Merrell, who prosecuted the case. “Then after he quit moving, he staged the crime scene by moving the bush axe next to Cleve’s body. Then he went to ask the neighbor to call 911, and his lies began.”

Clarence told investigators that after his brother quit moving, he went to the neighbor’s home to ask him to call 911. He also told his neighbor to tell 911 “not to be in no hurry” because Cleve was “done passed, deceased, dead.”

“It was an unusual case because the defense and I agreed on the big issues,” Merrell said. “We agreed that Clarence shot and killed Cleve. What we didn’t agree on was why he killed him, and to find that answer, the jury had to sift through a lot of forensic evidence and expert testimony.”

Dorothy Manning, Cleve and Clarence’s sister, testified that before his death Cleve suffered from Guillain-Barre syndrome, which caused his physical strength and muscular coordination to deteriorate.

A lifelong friend, David Hambry, testified that days before his murder, Cleve told him he planned to stop supporting Clarence financially.

Chief Assistant District Attorney Grace Jeter assisted with the case.

Circuit Judge Lex Short will sentence Clarence on March 15.

Murder is a Class A felony, and because Clarence used a deadly weapon to commit the crime, his punishment will range from 20 years to life in prison.

Merrell said he plans to ask Judge Short for the maximum sentence.

Clarence was represented by attorney Chris Sledge. Sledge declined to comment after the trial.