A judge sentenced a Hillsborough man to between six and eight years in prison last week for the 2007 beating death of a man in Efland.
Christopher Ray Sawyers, 29, and his father, Jerry Wayne Sawyers, 67, were charged in April 2015 with first-degree murder in the Sept. 24, 2007, death of Charles Sidney Lloyd, 47, at a home on Bushy Cook Road.
Christopher Sawyers pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter Wednesday under a plea deal with prosecutors. A separate robbery with a dangerous weapon charge was dismissed.
Jerry Sawyers was diagnosed with dementia and may be in Central Regional Hospital in Butner for a long time, Assistant District Attorney Byron Beasley said. He will not be prosecuted for the crime.
The attack that night woke up homeowner John Bradshaw, who was renting a room to Lloyd, Beasley said. Bradshaw walked outside and saw a small gray truck that he knew belonged to Sawyers leaving the scene, he said. Bradshaw then found Lloyd, who was severely beaten, and called 911.
Lloyd died a short time later at UNC Hospitals, Beasley said, and an Orange County Sheriff’s Office investigation stalled. The cold case warmed up in 2014 when an inmate in the county jail, Jeremy Husketh, offered new information.
Husketh told investigator Tim Horne that he drove the truck the night Lloyd was killed, Beasley said. It started, Husketh said, when they went to the house to buy cocaine.
The Sawyers went inside, Husketh told investigators, and he saw Christopher Sawyers pick up a metal pipe on the way.
“He heard a loud commotion and a lot of yelling and screaming. J.W. Sawyers, the father, walked back out towards the truck, he had blood on his pants. The commotion was still continuing inside the residence,” Beasley said. “So Mr. Husketh got out of the truck, walked up to the doorway that was partially open and saw this defendent on top of the victim, beating him in the head and neck area with something.”
Husketh said Sawyers later threw the pipe out of the truck, Beasley said; investigators recovered it, but the elements had destroyed any evidence. They returned to the Sawyers’ home in Hillsborough, he said, and went into the shed, where Sawyers removed his bloody clothes.
“Jerry Wayne Sawyers stated they had taken $91 in cash and a small amount of crack cocaine from Charles Lloyd,” Beasley said.
Husketh, who is in prison for possession of a firearm by a felon, told investigators he didn’t speak up because Sawyers threatened his family, he said.
Sawyers meets the guidelines for a habitual felon, which brings a much stricter sentence, Beasley said, but prosecutors decided against that route. He is still under investigation in Mebane for a 2011 crime, he said.
Attorney Kellie Mannette said Sawyers’ severe drug addiction had led him to rack up a lot of charges. He was last released from prison in January 2015 and was on parole, living in Person County and working full time at the time of his arrest, she said.
“(His probation officer) said he was doing great, he was staying clean, he was working hard, he was where he was supposed to be when he was supposed to be there,” she said. “It was a very brief period of time, your Honor, but it was a very significant improvement from the lifestyle he was living at the time this crime was committed.”