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Thomas James Laing. Photo courtesy of Watauga County Sheriff's Office.



Originally published: 2013-01-28 10:52:48
Last modified: 2013-01-28 11:06:00

DA provides update on Laing murder case

The murder case against Todd resident Thomas James Laing is progressing, but not as quickly as District Attorney Jerry Wilson originally planned.

The Watauga County Sheriff’s Office charged Laing, 58, with second-degree murder after the March 29, 2012, shooting death of 30-year-old Richard Bartlett.


Laing said in a 911 call that he shot Bartlett once in the head with a .22-caliber pistol.


He also claimed that Bartlett was unarmed but violent before the incident, according to the call.


Wilson said in late December that expected the case to conclude — whether by trial or by plea — by February.


Laing’s case is on the docket for the Superior Court administrative session on Monday, but Wilson said Friday he did not expect it would be closed next week.


“I may have been a little bit overly optimistic,” Wilson said. “If the matter does have to go to trial … it’s probably going to be early to mid spring.”


But, Wilson added: “You never know when a defendant’s going to turn and do something else.”


Wilson would not say whether he had discussed a plea with the defendant or his attorney, Scott Casey, who could not be reached Friday. Three of the last four murder cases in Watauga County ended with plea arrangements.


Little new information has become public about the case since last year.


In spring 2012, Laing’s phone records were subpoenaed from Carolina West Wireless, and the county communications center was ordered to turn over any 911 recordings related to the address at 996 South Road from the previous year.


Lowes Foods also was subpoenaed for any reports, letters or memos on Bartlett, and the Boone Police Department and the Watauga County Veterans Service Office also were asked to provide records.


In June 2012, a judge ordered Stepping Stone of Boone, an addiction treatment center, to release any records on Bartlett, including treatment history, diagnoses, medications and treatment recommendations.


Laing is currently out of jail on bond.