A trial date has been set for a man accused of killing a Mills River man while on the run from authorities this past summer.
District Attorney Greg Newman said the first-degree murder trial for Phillip Michael Stroupe II is scheduled to begin July 23, 2018, at the Henderson County Courthouse. Superior Court Judge R. Gregory Horne, of Watauga County, will preside over the trial. Horne will hear pre-trial motions during the week of May 28, 2018.
Stroupe is accused of killing Thomas Bryson on July 26, 2017. He is also charged with robbery with a dangerous weapon and first-degree kidnapping. Those crimes also involved Bryson and were part of a continuing course of criminal conduct that began in Transylvania County and extended into Henderson County, a news release from district attorney's office said. Authorities believe Bryson was killed outside Mills River in Buncombe County. Stroupe was arrested in McDowell County close to midnight on July 26, 2017.
Newman has stated publicly, and filed written notice with the court, that he intends to seek the death penalty.
“The only pending motion at this time is the defendant’s request to change the county where the trial is held," Newman said in the news release. "There will be other motions filed, perhaps by both sides, that will be addressed by the judge on May 28 of next year.”
The defendant’s father, who also faces charges related to the case, remains in the Henderson County jail.
Stroupe II is represented by Paul Welch and will be back in court Dec. 11, 2017, during the administrative session of Superior Court. He is being held in custody on no bond.