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City Walk contractors will need to close Main Avenue NE, from Second Street NE to First Avenue NE in Hickory, Monday (June 29) through Wednesday (July 1), for the break down and removal of the large crane used for construction of the N.C. 127 pedestrian bridge. The roadway will close Monday at 7 a.m. and remain closed through 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday. Detour routes will be established and clearly marked.

State correctional and local law enforcement officers from Newton and the Catawba Sheriff’s Office are seeking Catawba Correctional Center, minimum custody offender, 35-year-old Juan McDonald, who was reported missing from the facility Thursday (June 25). McDonald was last seen in the yard at approximately 9 p.m.

McDonald is 35-years-old, 5-foot-10, 181 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. He is from Hickory and was serving a sentence for speeding to elude arrest. He was convicted on October 29, 2018 and admitted to prison on November 22, 2019. He was scheduled for release November 6, 2020.

If you see McDonald, please call local law enforcement, dial 911 or contact Catawba Correctional Center at 828-466-5521. WHKY News earlier reported the escape of another inmate at approximately the same time, Nhia Vue, who was still being sought by authorities as of this afternoon (June 26). 

A Hickory man could spend up to 17 years in prison following his conviction for second-degree murder during Catawba County Superior Court on Thursday (June 25). 54-year-old Monroe David Byrd. Jr., was given an active prison term of 13 to 17 years after pleading guilty to the 2012 killing of his estranged wife, 33-year-old Amy Marie Starnes Byrd.

The Honorable Gregory R. Hayes, Superior Court Judge from Catawba County, imposed the prison term for Byrd, who will spend his period of incarceration in the custody of the North Carolina Division of Adult Corrections.

“Our sentiments continue to be with the family of Amy Byrd,” Catawba County Sheriff Don Brown said. “We are satisfied with the plea accepted by Mr. Byrd and the sentence imposed by Judge Hayes. We support and are proud to continue partnering with our District Attorney.”

Because the date of offense was in August 2012, the defendant was sentenced under the sentencing laws that were in effect at that time. Sentences for second-degree murder were substantially increased by the General Assembly in December 2012.

Prior to entry of the plea, Judge Hayes adopted findings from an evaluation by a forensic psychiatrist from Broughton Hospital that showed the defendant had the capacity to proceed. Byrd had been hospitalized several times during the eight years since the murder to address his mental capacity.

The murder took place on August 23, 2012. On that date, the defendant went to the house of an acquaintance covered in blood needing a place to hide because he said he had killed someone. That was reported to law enforcement.

Deputies from the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office later went to the defendant’s house. He was in front of the home but claimed he did not know where the victim was at that time. He still had dried blood on him. When deputies went inside the home, they found the victim dead on the couch.

Amy Byrd was stabbed to death by the defendant. The autopsy report showed that the victim died as a result of sharp force injuries to the head, chest, abdomen, back and extremities. She had defensive wounds on her hands.

Assistant District Attorney Melanie Earles noted the horrific nature of the crime and way that Amy Byrd suffered, telling the Court that her family had been seeking closure. Defense Attorney Lisa Dubs pointed out that Monroe Byrd had long-standing psychiatric issues dating back to 1992, outlining numerous evaluations and treatment regimens through the years.

Amy Byrd’s father, Paul Starnes, addressed the Court, saying that he wanted the defendant to know what he had put her family through – anguish and heartache that was still present even after eight years – mentioning that her four children were having to grow up without her.

35 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed today (June 26) in Catawba County, increasing the overall total to 704, with 13 deaths. Hospitalizations dropped to 11, according to Catawba County Public Health, one fewer than Thursday (June 25). At least 314 patients had recovered from the coronavirus and there have been 3,190 negative tests.

Governor Roy Cooper announced earlier this week that face coverings will be required for citizens when they are out in the public and six feet of social distancing is not possible. That was scheduled to take effect at 5 p.m. today. This requirement includes all employees and customers in retail establishments. There are exceptions that include situations when a medical condition will not allow for a face covering and children under 11-years-old.

On Thursday (June 25) at approximately 2:30 p.m. Iredell County Sheriff’s Office Patrol Deputies responded to a reported death at an address on Damron Lane in Harmony. The first deputy to arrive on the scene approached the residence and could see a male body in the living room. No one else was located in the home.

Criminal Detectives and Crime Scene Investigators soon arrived at the location. From the initial crime scene observation, the cause of death was not natural causes. While the crime scene was being processed for evidence, Iredell County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigators canvassed the area interviewing neighbors, and people in the area.

The victim was positively identified, as 35-year-old Aaron Bruce Holland who resided at the Damron Lane home. At this time, the incident is being investigated as a homicide, and the investigation is still on going. Anyone with information about this investigation is asked to contact the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office at (704) 878-3180 or Iredell County Crime Stoppers at (704) 662-1340.

39-year-old Anthony Lynn Davidson of Finger Bridge Road in Hickory was arrested Thursday (June 25) by Catawba County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with possession of a firearm by a felon along with two counts of felony probation violation. Davidson was incarcerated in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $50,000 bond. A Superior Court appearance is scheduled for September 24.

47-year-old Brian Blake Blackburn of Shady Valley Lane in Claremont was arrested Thursday (July 25) by Catawba County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with trafficking in methamphetamine, possession with intent to manufacture, sell, and deliver meth, maintaining a vehicle, dwelling or place to keep controlled substance, simple possession of schedule II controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Blackburn was confined in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $151,500 bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled today (June 26).

37-year-old Quantay Anthony Gaither of Mckay Road in Newton was arrested Thursday (June 25) by Hickory Police Officers. He's charged with felony counts of possession with intent to manufacture, sell, and deliver marijuana, and possession of schedule 1, II, and IV controlled substances. Gaither is also charged with misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.

On Thursday, a Hickory Police Officer conducted a traffic stop near the intersection of 4th Street SW and 4th Street Drive SW. During the stop, the officer reportedly found 196.65 grams of marijuana, 2.95 grams of cocaine, 15 dosage units of ecstasy, 30 dosage units of xanax, 19 dosage units of oxycodone, three dosage units of alprazolam, two grams of THC oil, 183 dosage units of various pills, drug paraphernalia, and $1,266 in cash.

Gaither was arrested without incident and his bond was set at $31,000 secured. He was not listed as an inmate in Catawba County today (June 26). A District Court appearance was scheduled today in Newton.

31-year-old Sara Alexandra Isbell of Banner Elk was arrested today (June 26) by Newton Police Officers. She's charged with felony possession of heroin. Isbell was jailed in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $2,000 bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled today.

57-year-old Richard Alan Mayers of Spruce Pine was arrested Thursday (June 25) by Lenoir Police Officers. He's charged on a felony warrant as a fugitive from another state. Mayers is wanted in Tennessee on unspecified charges. He's also charged in Caldwell County with simple assault, communicating threats, and second-degree trespassing.

Mayers was jailed in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $50,000 secured bond, District Court appearances are scheduled for next Monday (June 29) and August 3.

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