LUMBERTON — A Lumberton man has pleaded guilty to killing his brother after recently being deemed fit for trial, according to Robeson County District Attorney Johnson Britt.
Ira Locklear pleaded guilty Wednesday to second-degree murder for the stabbing death of his brother, 53-year-old Vicky Locklear, on Aug. 13, 2012.
Judge Mary Ann Tally sentenced Locklear, 58, to a minimum of seven years, 10 months and a maximum of 10 years, five months in prison.
According to Britt, Locklear, who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, had threatened to kill his brother the night before he stabbed him to death while he was lying in bed. Relatives said he had been walking around the Saddletree Road neighborhood where he, his brother and sister lived with a butcher knife.
“The family had been calling the Sheriff’s Department, they said, for a couple of years prior to this trying to get help when he would have episodes,” Britt said.
Vicky Locklear was dead when emergency responders arrived and Locklear was taken into custody and charged with first-degree murder.
According to Britt, Locklear was declared incompetent to stand trial shortly after being charged with his brother’s death and was taken to Central Regional Hospital for treatment. Locklear was again evaluated, deemed competent and brought to jail in Robeson County near the end of 2015.
Around that time, his lawyer, longtime Public Defender Angus Thompson, retired, and as Locklear’s case was shifted to Thompson’s successor, Ronald Foxworth, questions were again raised about his mental health. He was hospitalized and during a hearing in July, was deemed competent again.
Britt said Locklear was given the “low end” of the sentencing range in part because of his mental health and because he had no prior convictions. His time spent hospitalized will count towards his sentence.
Vicky Locklear’s son and daughter were present for the plea.
“Had there been help available from a mental health standpoint five years ago this wouldn’t have happened,” Britt said. “This is a reflection of the breakdown of our mental health system.”
Sarah Willets can be reached at 910-816-1974 or on Twitter @Sarah_Willets.