Special Report to Blowing Rock News from District Attorney Seth Banks. August 5, 2016. BOONE, NC — On August 1, 2016, Travis Lane Ward, 29, was sentenced for his role in the murder of Brandon Lee Byrd on January 15, 2015, in the Bethel Community of Watauga County. Mr. Ward was the last of four co-defendants to plead guilty and be sentenced.
Mr. Byrd and Dustin Gatton, an associate of Mr. Byrd, travelled to the Bethel Community in the early morning hours of January 15, 2015, to meet with Candice Danielle Rogers. Ms. Rogers directed them to the residence of William David Cable. Once they arrived, Mr. Ward approached the parties armed with a pistol and requested that Mr. Gatton enter the residence. Once inside, Mr. Ward demanded Mr. Gatton’s property at gunpoint.
Mr. Cable, who was armed with a rifle, then confronted Mr. Byrd outside of the residence. As Mr. Byrd ran from the scene, Mr. Cable shot Mr. Byrd in the back, killing him. When police arrived at the scene, Mr. Byrd’s pockets were also turned outwards and his property was never located. Ms. Jessica Lynne Oakes, age 30, accompanied Mr. Ward as they placed the murder and robbery weapons under the residence where the shooting occurred before fleeing from the scene.
As Mr. Byrd ran from the scene, Mr. Cable shot Mr. Byrd in the back, killing him.
For their roles in the murder and robbery of Mr. Byrd, the four co-defendants received the following sentences:
William Cable, age 36, plead guilty to second degree murder, robbery with a dangerous weapon, and conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon. The Honorable Gary M. Gavenus sentenced Cable to 18 to 22 years in prison on July 6, 2016.
Travis Ward plead guilty to accessory after the fact to second degree murder, robbery with a dangerous weapon, and conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon. Judge Gavenus sentenced Ward to 48-70 months in prison.
Jessica Oakes plead guilty to two counts of accessory after the fact to robbery with a dangerous weapon and received a sentence of 32-58 months in prison.
Candice Rogers plead guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon and was sentenced to 22-39 months in prison, followed by a suspended sentence of 22-39 months. Once released, Ms. Rogers will be placed on supervised probation for three years.
“This is such a tragic case for Watauga County and for the families involved,” said District Attorney Seth Banks. “This murder has rocked the Bethel community which is known for the strong character and traditions of its people and its beauty. Our hearts and prayers go out to the families whose lives have been irreparably broken because of these incidents. I appreciate the hard work of Assistant District Attorney Matt Rupp and the efforts of the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office in bringing these Defendants to justice.”