Local News

Man pleads guilty to killing Four Oaks couple, setting house ablaze

Posted October 5, 2011

— A Johnston County man pleaded guilty Wednesday to killing a Four Oaks couple last year and setting their house on fire, authorities said.

Barney Edward Gamble, 50, of King Mill Road in Four Oaks, was sentenced to consecutive life terms in prison without the possibility of parole for the deaths of L.C. and Sue Anne Beasley.

Johnston County District Attorney Susan Doyle had planned to seek the death penalty against Gamble, but she said that she took capital punishment off the table in exchange for the guilty plea.

"In making this decision, my staff and I took into consideration the concern of the Beasleys’ family and their wishes for closure," Doyle said in a statement.

Family members went to the Beasley home, at 125 Hollow Oak Drive, on Jan. 21, 2010, after they couldn't reach the retired couple by phone. They saw smoke inside the home and called firefighters, who found Sue Anne Beasley, 65, dead inside.

Deputies later found the body of J.C. Beasley, 66, in a nearby storage shed.

Authorities said that Sue Anne Beasley had been shot twice in the head and her husband once each in the head and chest. A fire was started on a couch in the home to cover up the crimes, they said.

The couple's Chevrolet Silverado was found wrecked in a ditch nearby, and a witness said he saw Gamble getting out of the pickup with two shotguns, authorities said. A search of Gamble's home turned up a .22-caliber pistol that was found to be the murder weapon, they said.

In addition to the two murder charges, Gamble pleaded guilty to first-degree arson, first-degree kidnapping and larceny of a motor vehicle.


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  • soyousay Oct 5, 2011

    Viet..I don't mean to sound heartless

    revenge fantasies getting to you?

  • soyousay Oct 5, 2011

    made..drivel...if it wasn't such obvious bait, it would be entertaining

  • Vietnam Vet Oct 5, 2011

    "The General Assembly needs to restrict the authority of the Medical Board that they can't revoke a doctor's license because they participate in an execution, and re-write the execution protocol to include commonly available drugs."

    How about we stop worrying about how the criminal is going to feel and go old school. How about hanging or firing squad. No doctors or drugs involved, except to confirm death. Oh wait...WE have to be civilized now and the criminals don't. I say let the punishment fit the crime and stop worrying so much about the criminals.

  • Vietnam Vet Oct 5, 2011

    "Because that is what his family wanted. In my humble opinion, that trumps what the DA & the rest of us want in this type situation. They wanted closure, not the heartache of a trial with possible endless appeals, and no execution for 20 years."

    I don't mean to sound heartless but because the family wants closure why on earth should the rest of us (taxpayers)have to support this guy for the rest of his life, with better care than most of us get, just so they can have closure? He did the crime, admitted to it, and IMHO he should fry...no plea deals!!

  • anne53ozzy Oct 5, 2011

    Made in USA You are so smart and now I have to go throw up. "are to blame" for what....due process...the facts in this case which are not published here...read earlier articles on RAL and you will see these people were not strangers to one another and drugs may have been a common demonimator.

  • Made In USA Oct 5, 2011

    Liberal judges and those that favor the democratic party are to blame.

  • anne53ozzy Oct 5, 2011

    As I read previous reports, it appears Gamble and Beasley were acquainted and drugs may have been involved. This is probabley a mitigating factor.

  • eccgc Oct 5, 2011

    Wait! Dollibug will be very upset! She'll be claiming that all of this was UNFAIR and UNJUST! :)

  • AtALost Oct 5, 2011

    "Death penalty shouldn't be painless, it should be painful and harsh. "

    Agreed. They should get the same punishment the gave. Criminals might police themselves if they knew that going in. If their family wants to pay for healthcare, etc. then ok. They certainly don't deserve free healthcare which regular citizens don't get today.

  • dwntwnboy Oct 5, 2011

    "one of the drugs that is used in lethal injections is off the market"- rope works, so do bullets and 50,000 volts of electricity. Death penalty shouldn't be painless, it should be painful and harsh. All this coddling of criminals after they have committed unspeakable crimes against innocent people- they shouldn't know when or how- just like their victims didn't know what was going to happen that day. Get tough on violent criminals, it's the only thing they know.