Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Suspect in Surf City homicide to be tried as capital case

Video surveillance images of Haywood in Exotic Hemp the day of the robbery and murder. (Courtesy Surf City PD)

PENDER COUNTY — A Holly Springs man charged for allegedly robbing an Exotic Hemp Company and killing an employee could face capital punishment.

Charles Michael Haywood, 22, has been charged with the first-degree murder of Margaret Bracey and armed robbery with a dangerous weapon. He is accused of stealing $750 from the Surf City store last August before fatally stabbing the 42-year-old store clerk.

READ MORE: Death penalty being considered for man charged with murder of Surf City Exotic Hemp employee

ALSO: 911 call reveals couple reported Exotic Hemp employee brutally attacked by armed robber

Haywood appeared in court Monday, March 27. Superior Court Judge Dawn Layton ruled in favor of District Attorney Ben David’s suggestion to try it as a capital case. The DA noted aggravating factors — attributes of the crime that make it worse than other similar crimes — played into the decision.

If found guilty, Haywood could face the death penalty.

According to search warrants obtained by Port City Daily, Haywood entered the store at 6:38 p.m. on Aug. 24, 2022 and interacted with Bracey about hemp products before brandishing a knife and commanding her to open the register. After removing all the cash, Haywood stabbed Bracey multiple times.

The suspect was caught on Exotic Hemp’s video surveillance system, wherein he could be seen stealing merchandise and cash before placing everything into a black backpack.

Haywood also cut his hand during the attack; the video shows him bleeding. He removed articles of clothing, left behind at the store, and headed southeast on U.S. Highway 50. Officers traced his blood to the highway as well, court documents detail.

Upon arriving home, Haywood’s mother, Nikki Holloway, told law enforcement he disposed of a shirt he used to wrap his injured hand. She took him to the hospital in Onslow County to seek medical treatment and drove Haywood to the Surf City Police Department the following morning so he could turn himself in.

This incident marked the first murder in Surf City in more than 20 years.


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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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