Atom Cameron was initially charged with second-degree murder for killing Colby Lucas. The incident took place on September 25, 2018, around 2:20 p.m. at Circle K in Durham. He was subsequently charged in 2019 for possession of a stolen firearm and two drug charges. In October of 2021, Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson downgraded Cameron’s sentence to voluntary manslaughter, a sentence of seven to nine years, under a plea deal.
Family complains about leniency
According to news reports, the victim’s mother said of the sentence: “It’s not enough time… People get more time for drugs than people that take a life. It is not looking after the victim’s family at all.” The victim was 29 years old and had children ranging from two to 12 years old.
Cameron told the police that Lucas entered the Circle K parking lot at a high rate of speed as he was leaving. Both drivers were forced to stop suddenly, leaving the two men to throw their hands into the air and stare at each other. Cameron then began to drive away when Lucas said something. This prompted Cameron to back up and get out of his truck, standing by his open door with his hidden hand on a pistol. The men exchanged words, and then Lucas struck Cameron, prompting Cameron to push Lucas away and then shoot him in the shoulder and neck. Lucas ran into the store but bled to death there.
Atom Cameron already served about seven months before the plea hearing. He had no criminal history beyond the 2019 charges, but he was linked to another road rage incident where he was charged for driving offenses but not convicted. He was remorseful and apologized to the family in open court.
He got lucky
Judges and prosecutors are not always open to plea deals, so it appears that Cameron got the lesser sentence because he did not initiate the incident, and he defended himself. It also fits the voluntary manslaughter’s definition of the incident resulting from a sudden quarrel. The second-degree murder charge includes sentencing that is not less than 12 years to life in prison. Despite both charges involving intentional but unpremeditated killing, Cameron’s voluntary manslaughter sentence could end up being a little over half as long as the second-degree sentencing. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the plea bargain, it’s safe to say that Cameron got lucky that his plea deal worked out.