Conway man charged with murder in area’s first homicide

troot@thesunnews.comJanuary 17, 2014 

Barry Dewitt Bethea

A Conway man was jailed Thursday evening on murder and weapons charges in connection with the area’s first homicide this year when a 23-year-old man was killed as he walked in the city, according to authorities.

Barry Dewitt Bethea, 21, of Conway was booked into J. Reuben Long Detention Center at 6:28 p.m. Thursday and charged with murder and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, according to jail records. Bethea is being held pending a bond hearing.

Conway police charged Bethea in the death of 23-year-old Joey Lee Pyatt Jr., who died Jan. 6 from a gunshot wound while he was being treated at Conway Medical Center, authorities said.

Police were called about 1 p.m. that day for gunshots being fired in the area of Pitman Street and Woodward Drive, Lt. Selena Small said. Officers found Pyatt had been shot and EMS took him to the hospital. Police have released no other details about the shooting including a motive.

In addition to this week’s charges, Bethea also has pending armed robbery charges filed during the summer, according to court records. Bethea was charged in July in connection with an armed robbery that occurred a month earlier in the Conway area, according to authorities.

In that incident, Horry County police charged Bethea with armed robbery and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, Lt. Robert Kegler said at the time of his arrest.

Police responded to an armed robbery on Rose Moss Road at 12:15 p.m. June 22, according to a police report. The first victim said he was driving to his cousin’s house and missed his cousin’s driveway, so he stopped to turn around in another driveway, and the suspect, known as “Sweet," jumped in the passenger seat of the vehicle. He said the suspect was brandishing a black handgun, looked around and took a Samsung Galaxy S3 cell phone from the second victim, his brother.

The first victim said the suspect told them, “I better not hear about this,” got out of the car and walked away, the report said. The victim said he drove home and contacted police. The victim was able to give a description of the suspect. He said he hung around the suspect when he was younger, and he used to live off Augusta Road in Conway.

Two fingerprints were lifted from the front passenger, side-door handle of the victim’s car, the report said. The victim described the suspect’s handgun as a black semi-auto pistol with a yellow “mark” by the trigger.

A records check with the State Law Enforcement Division showed Bethea was charged July 2 with unlawful carrying of a weapon and trespassing by Horry County police and then eight days later he was arrested in the armed robbery.

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