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, 2020.
Monroe David Byrd. Jr., 54, 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 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.
“Obviously, this is an extremely sad and serious situation,” Judge Hayes said. “No matter what I say, it won’t bring back Amy Byrd’s life. Nothing will bring your daughter back, and no amount of prison time is adequate.”
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.
“I believe he knew exactly what he was doing,” Mr. Starnes said. “This is not easy. It’s not easy for me to even look at him.”
CONTACT: Nathan Key