By Jesse Wood
A trial in Watauga County Superior Court for the four suspects charged with the murder of a man in Western Watauga has not been set yet.
District Attorney Seth Banks said that the discovery process is ongoing as the case is still on the administrative calendar. Banks also mentioned that a final decision on whether to try all of the suspects together or separately hasn’t been made yet because there are a “variety of factors” that could influence how the suspects are tried.
On the morning of Jan. 15, Brandon Lee Byrd, 32, of Iredell County, was shot as he ran away from one or more of the suspects at a trailer on Smith Henson Road. Byrd, who died at the scene, was found facedown at a nearby residence.
That same day, William David Cable, Jr., 34, of Smith Henson Road in Bethel; Travis Lane Ward, 29, of 954 U.S. 321 North in Vilas; Candice Rogers, 26, of Smith Henson Road in Bethel; and Jessica Lynne Oakes, 28, of 167 Bryant Combs Road in Sugar Grove were all charged with murder, robbery with a dangerous weapon and conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon.
In conducting a search warrant of the unaddressed mobile home on Smith Henson Road, investigators with the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office found evidence indicating that meth was being made at the residence.
While authorities have said little about the case, court records detail conversations between investigators with the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office and some of the suspects, which give insight into what may have happened on Jan. 15.
Ward wasn’t quoted in the documents and Oakes was quoted little other than to say that she didn’t witness the murder because she was inside the trailer when Byrd was shot.
Cable, however, told investigators that the other three suspects were all at his residence on Smith Henson Road to help him deal drugs and that he admitted to firing one shot at Byrd following “peeling off” after an argument with Rogers, who also lived at the residence.
Rogers told investigators that all of the suspects were high on meth at the time of the incident and that Cable shot Byrd as he was running away.
Rogers said that she called Byrd and his cousin Dustin Gatton to help her because Cable was “beating” on Rogers. Rogers said that she met Byrd and Gatton at the Cove Creek Store and they followed her to the Smith Henson Road trailer.
Gatton, however, said that he and Byrd came to the residence to deliver drugs. Gatton added that Byrd had 13 grams of meth in his possession, $1,545 in cash and an Apple iPhone that has yet to be found by authorities.
While the drugs, cash and phone weren’t found, investigators did find three weapons and numerous items indicative of meth labs.
After the crime occurred, Watauga County Sheriff Len Hagaman was reluctant to talk about the case, and on Monday, Banks also declined to talk about the facts of the case.
“Under rules of professional conduct, I am barred from talking about the facts of a pending case. I really can’t get into the facts,” Banks said.
Below are mugshots of those charged and a map of where the murder took place.