A Hickory man was sentenced to up to 17 years in prison after his conviction for second-degree murder during Catawba County Superior Court on Thursday, June 25, according to a press release from District Attorney Scott Reilly.
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. He will spend his period of incarceration in the custody of the North Carolina Division of Adult Corrections.
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, according to the release.
“Obviously, this is an extremely sad and serious situation,” said Gregory R. Hayes, Superior Court judge from Catawba County. “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.”
Before entry of the plea, 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 slaying to address his mental capacity.
The murder took place Aug. 23, 2012. On that date, the defendant went to the house of an acquaintance, covered in blood and needing a place to hide because he said he had killed someone. That was reported to law enforcement, according to the release.
Deputies from the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office later went to Byrd’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, Amy Byrd, dead on the couch.
Amy Byrd was stabbed to death by her estranged husband. The autopsy report showed that she died as a result of sharp-force injuries to the head, chest, abdomen, back and extremities. She also had defensive wounds on her hands, according to the release.
Assistant District Attorney Melanie Earles noted the horrific nature of the crime and the 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 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.