Carteret Co. Brothers Remain Jailed 10 Months Refusing To Give Up "Family Land"

By: April Davis/ Kelsie Smith
By: April Davis/ Kelsie Smith

A couple of brothers in Carteret County have been in jail almost a year because they refuse to sign a court order to demolish their houses and abandon the place they've called home. They remain in jail after a judge refused to hear the case Monday.

Melvin Davis and Licurtis Reels are from Merrimon in Carteret County. They're fighting for 13 acres off Sliver Dollar Road along Adams Creek. The property rights have been in question since the 1980s.

Back in 1911, Elijah Reels bought 65 acres, including the 13 acres in question. In 1944 Elijah lost the property but his son Mitchell Reels was able to buy it. Mitchell Reels died without a will and after his death in 1976 a judgment stated the land would go to his family heirs. The judge didn't include Mitchell's brother Shedrick Reels who would later use the Torrens law to become owner of the 13 acres along the waterfront. He sold the land in 1986. Adams Creek Associates bought it, but Melvin Davis and Licurtis Reels never left saying the property was never legally Shedrick Reels' to sell. They were arrested in March of last year and have been in the Carteret County Jail ever since.

We spoke with Adams Creek Associates Attorney Lamar Armstrong Tuesday.
"My client Adams Creek Associates bought this property in 1986. When you buy a title that has been torrenized you would think you got something under about as good of ownership that you can have under North Carolina Law. Well just the contrary has occurred in reality because the Reels family has refused to comply," said Armstrong.

"I'm trying to figure out how can one judge can give it to you and another judge take it back if it's already been ordered. The 1976 judgment should stand," said the niece of the jailed men Kim Duhon.

The case was scheduled to be heard in Craven County Court Monday, but after reviewing the case the judge chose not to hear it. The Reels family says they will continue to fight for the land they believe is rightfully theirs.

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