SHERIFF: Baseball Bat Victim Able To Speak With Investigators

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The man who deputies say was beaten with a baseball bat is now able to speak with Onslow County investigators.

Justin Owens was assaulted last week in Sneads Ferry. Sheriff Ed Brown says nearly every bone in Owens' head was broken. Brown says to their surprise the victim was able to speak with investigators Monday at New Hanover Regional Medical Center.

Six men have been charged with the attack. Brown says Owens had several skull fractures, and injuries indicate that the attack involved several impacts--contradicting what witnesses had told investigators.

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Sneads Ferry, NC -- Six men are charged with beating a man in the head with the baseball bat in the Onslow County town of Sneads Ferry Thursday.

Lawmen have released the 911 tape from the scene. They say the call was made by one of the suspects in the case. The caller identified himself as Josh Holsonback.

"Caller: I just found a guy laying in the middle of the road, whatever, I don't know if he was hit by a car or what. He's got blood everywhere, sir, he's leaking blood bad.

911: Okay, are you right there with him now sir?

Caller: Yes sir, I am.

911: Stay on the phone with me, sir, I'm going to get some help out there to you, okay?

Caller: Yes sir, yes sir.

(Dispatcher asks for phone number, caller gives it.)

911: Just calm down with me, okay, you're doing a good job.

Caller: Yes sir, yes sir. It's just a lot of blood sir.

911: OK. How old is the patient would you guess?

Caller: I don't know, he's in his 20s or 30s... He's moving, he's making noises and stuff. Are you all right buddy? He's moving, he's messed up pretty bad sir.

911: Is he awake, like conscious, or is he just…

Caller: He's conscious… he's trying to get up… Stay down sir, stay down!

911: Are you in the middle of the road still?

Caller: Yes, I'm still in the middle of the road."

At that point in the call, the dispatcher asks the man to move the victim off the road, which he and another man do. The call continues, and you can hear the victim moaning as the caller talks with the dispatcher.

The Onslow County Sheriff's Office says the assault happened early Thursday morning along Hwy 172 and Country Club Road in Sneads Ferry.

Emergency personnel found Justin Todd Owens lying in a large pool of blood with wounds to the head. He was life flighted to New Hanover Regional Hospital.

At last report, Owens was in critical condition. Authorities say he is a white male, age 24.

"The victim of the assault is still unable to communicate with the investigators," reports Sheriff Ed Brown. "It probably will be some time before he is able to speak with investigators."

Lawmen say they recovered the wooden baseball bat Friday morning that was used in a brutal attack Thursday.

The following are charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury and felony conspiracy:
26-year-old Joshua Wayne Holsonback of Sneads Ferry
21-year-old Michael Christopher Potter of Sneads Ferry
24-year-old Joshua David Pratt of Sneads Ferry
23-year-old Larry Lee Joiner of Jacksonville
22-year-old Alexander Scott Burdette of Holly Ridge
24-year-old Charles Douglas Reynolds of Sneads Ferry

(See attached slideshow for photos of suspects.)

According to the North Carolina Department of Corrections website, four of the six suspects have prior convictions.

The site shows Holsonback has been convicted in either Onslow or Pender counties on charges of breaking and entering, credit card fraud and possession. He served time behind bars, according to the website.

Corrections records indicate Potter has not served any time behind bars, but has been convicted of breaking and entering in Onslow County. Court records show he was already scheduled to be in court in June on breaking and entering and larceny charges.

The website shows Pratt with multiple convictions in Onslow County, including assault, disorderly conduct, credit card fraud, larceny and driving with license revoked. The website shows Pratt has not served any time behind bars. Court records show Pratt was already scheduled to be in court Monday on a misdemeanor probation violation charge.

Records indicate Burdette was convicted in Onslow or Pender counties of drugs, breaking and entering of vehicles and breaking and entering.

There were no listings on the Department of Corrections website for the other two suspects, nor was there any listing for the victim.

All suspects are under $200,000 bond and had first court appearances Friday morning. The next court appearance is set for May 6.

Joshua Pratt