By Ted Shockley
The murder-for-hire trial of an Accomac man who police say made telephone calls from jail with instructions to kill a drug informant will enter its third day on Thursday, Jan. 24.
Evron Terrell Strand, 42, sat quietly in Accomack Circuit Court on Wednesday as a business partner, Cynthia Harmon, testified that Strand, in jailhouse calls, sought someone to kill Nathaniel Johnson.
Johnson was shot twice on Halloween Night, 2017, in Little Boston, south of Pungoteague, and survived the attack.
Testimony by members of the Eastern Shore Drug Task Force, for whom Johnson works as a paid informant, cast a rare spotlight on the area’s nebulous culture of drug trafficking and the shrewd pursuit of it by law-enforcement officers.
The local mechanics of narcotics investigations administered by the task force includes confidential informants like Johnson, who are paid for their services and even placed in off-the-Shore motel rooms to keep them safe during investigations.
State Police Special Agent Scott Wade of the drug task force said the informants are important because the cost of hiring undercover police new to the area to infiltrate narcotics communities makes it “almost impossible.”
“It’s very difficult to have someone come in,” he said.
Getting cooperation from informants like Johnson, who are motivated by money or trying to get out of legal trouble, is a key to investigations, said Wade.
Wade said Johnson was paid $3,300 before the shooting and has been paid $5,600 afterward, an amount that includes lodging. His police informant work led to Strand’s arrest.
Testimony in the trial will continue on Thursday morning.