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Man convicted in 2018 killing
  • Updated

Hykeem Simmons

HIGH POINT — A High Point man has been convicted in the fatal drive-by shooting of an 18-year-old pregnant woman in August 2018 in an east High Point neighborhood.

Hykeem Marquis Simmons, 25, was found guilty of first-degree murder Tuesday in the death of Anastasia Ray after a trial in Guilford County Superior Court.

Simmons also was found guilty in the death of her unborn child and on charges of discharging a weapon into occupied dwelling, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, possession of firearm by a convicted felon and possession of a gun with an altered or destroyed serial number.

Simmons was sentenced to two consecutive life terms without parole, District Attorney Avery Crump told The High Point Enterprise.

Ray, who had just graduated from Andrews High School and was eight months pregnant, was in the living room of her grandmother’s house in the 700 block of Thissell Street about 10:30 p.m. on Aug. 6, 2018, when shooting linked to gang violence began outside.

She was shot in the head and later died at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem. Her older brother was also shot but survived.

Another person charged in Ray’s death, Joel Noah Emmanuel Jenkins, 21, of High Point, is scheduled for trial July 10.

A third person who had been charged, Jonas Thompson, who was 16 years old at the time, was found dead Oct. 25, 2020, in a field off N.C. 109 in Davidson County’s Silver Valley community in what investigators think was a homicide.

City: Leaf collection progressing

HIGH POINT — City crews are still working on the second round of curbside loose leaf collection in High Point neighborhoods, which has been delayed a few weeks due to heavier-than-normal volumes earlier in the fall.

Trucks will finish picking up leaves on Tuesday and Thursday garbage collection routes in about two weeks, according to the latest estimates, and then switch to Monday and Wednesday routes, city Public Services Director Robby Stone said.

The city is usually wrapping up collections by now, which has led some to wonder why some streets still have piles of leaves waiting for the vacuum trucks.

“I know it’s been aggravating for some folks, but we seem to have pushed through, and we want to thank everyone for their patience,” Stone said.

When the city started the first round of collections in November, progress was slow because crews were unexpectedly inundated in many neighborhoods.

Tonnages at the city’s Ingleside Compost Facility, where leaves are processed into mulch and soil, have been higher than normal.

“It appears we had the bulk of leaves to fall earlier this year,” Stone said. “It seems some seasons, they fall more consistently throughout, or sometimes even later.”

As the Tuesday and Thursday route collections continue, the city is increasing its fleet of leaf trucks to eight.

Once these routes are done, Stone said he expects it will take about two weeks to cover Monday and Wednesday routes.

“I’m anticipating that round two hopefully will go much quicker, much smoother,” he said.

Family issues tribute to slain woman
  • Updated

HIGH POINT — Relatives of the woman who was killed by her husband in the Jan. 7 murder-suicide at a north High Point home issued a statement Wednesday praising her life story and her devotion to her children and others.

Athalia Athena Crayton, 46, or Art, as she was known to friends and family, had built a productive and rewarding life, the family said in the statement released by Winston-Salem attorney Harold J. Eustache Jr.

Robert Crayton Jr., 45, shot her, three of their children and himself at the family home in the 2700 block of Mossy Meadow Drive.

“Athalia Athena Crayton and her wonderful children, Nasir, Nyla, and Kasim, were a light to everyone they met,” the family said. “Their lives were taken too soon — yet their legacy lives on from the shores of Jamaica to the campus of N.C. A&T.”

Athalia Crayton’s family came from Kingston, Jamaica, and she grew up in Miami and South Carolina.

She was a U.S. Army veteran, rising to the rank of sergeant in the 2nd Infantry Division as a heavy equipment mechanic.

Her family said she also was a business owner, certified life coach, interior designer and a student at N.C. A&T State University.

“Most importantly she was a dedicated mother to her children,” the family said in the statement.

Athalia Crayton possessed an engaging personality that led to her sustaining friendships.

“Athalia poured her heart and soul into everyone she met, which is how she sustained so many friendships over decades. At her core, Art was an amazing mother, committed wife, loving sister and honorable daughter,” the family said in the statement.

“She was the glue, and made every effort to bond together her entire family.”

The family said it will continue to honor her and her children in the coming weeks with a memorial service and a video statement. The family said if someone wants to support the Crayton family they can go through their GoFundMe and Facebook pages.

The family concluded the statement by saying they “would like to express their gratitude for all the love, support, prayers and well-wishes that have been extended to them.” | 336-888-3528 | @HPEpaul

New community chorus forming

HIGH POINT — Participating in a community chorus as a child growing up in Radford, Virginia, changed Wesley Hudson’s life.

He learned about different styles of music and people from much different backgrounds than his own — “people I never would have met and still have relationships with,” he said. “It’s how I fell in love with the idea of singing together and binding hearts.”

Those are the kinds of experiences that he said High Point residents have not been able to have since the High Point Community Chorus stopped performing several years ago.

Now Hudson, 52, the director of music ministries for First United Methodist Church on N. Main Street, is organizing a new chorus, the High Point Community Chorale. He plans for it to begin meeting to rehearse each Sunday afternoon beginning Feb. 5 and to hold its first public concert May 7.

Hudson said he had hoped that the other chorus would reorganize and begin performing again after COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings ended. When he talked to people who had been involved with the group and learned that it would not, he began to get the idea to start a new chorus.

The High Point Community Chorale is being organized as an outreach of First United Methodist, but Hudson wants to draw its members from a diverse, interfaith cross-section of the community, people of all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds.

He plans for the chorus to hold two big concerts with a variety of music each year — one in the spring and one in the fall — to raise money for local nonprofits, and also to have smaller performances around the community, such as singing the National Anthem at High Point Rockers games or singing holiday music during the annual Uptowne Holiday Stroll.

“The response so far has been incredibly positive,” he said.

Hudson came to North Carolina to attend what is now the UNC School of the Arts, where he received a master’s of fine arts degree. He and his wife, Allison, a pediatrician, came to High Point 11 years ago.

Hudson said he inherited his love of music.

“My father sang bass in the Fort Knox chorus (while in the Army), and he never stopped singing,” he said.


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