Local News

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

Posted October 5, 2011 2:25 p.m. EDT

— 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.