Suspect in Surf City murder and armed robbery could face death penalty

IN PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The suspect in a Surf City murder made a court appearance on Monday, March 27.

The prosecution proposed Charles Michael Haywood’s case be tried as a capital case, which means if he’s found guilty, he could face the death penalty.

Superior Court Judge Dawn Layton ruled in favor of the district attorney office’s proposal.

Haywood is facing charges for the murder of 42-year-old Margaret Bracey, along with armed robbery with a dangerous weapon.

Haywood is accused of entering the Exotic Hemp Company in Surf City, on August 24 of 2022. He allegedly asked Bracey about hemp products, before taking out a knife, demanding money, and eventually killing her.

“This is especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel, given the facts and circumstances of what happened to Margaret Bracey that evening. It was also in the commission of an armed robbery, and done for pecuniary gain. These are all aggravating factors, where the state is empowered to seek the death penalty. Not every first degree murder is death penalty eligible, you have to have what are called aggravating circumstances. The judge agreed that based on the facts and circumstances of this case, it should proceed forward and Charles Michael Haywood will be tried for his life,” said Ben David, Pender County District Attorney.

Haywood’s next court date has not yet been set. District Attorney Ben David says he expects the jury to be selected from Pender County residents.

“Two of my prosecutors, Jason Smith and Amy White, are both going to be actually handling the case when it comes to trial. I was present at the scene with Jason, the night it happened, and we’ve all been working closely. That’s one thing I want to stress, –you know, these decisions are not made lightly, we have over 100-years, worth of prosecutors, around the table with me and the lead investigators, when we have what are called critical case reviews.”

In a trial for a capital case, the jury will deliver a guilty or not guilty verdict, and then later determine how the suspect will be sentenced.

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