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Brothers could face death penalty after being charged with N.C. deputy’s murder

Deputy Ned Byrd, who had responded to an earlier domestic incident, was found dead with multiple gunshot wounds outside his unmarked SUV last month


Photo/Wake County Sheriff’s Office

By Virginia Bridges
The Herald-Sun

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. — A man charged with killing Wake County Deputy Ned Byrd will continue to be held without bail at the Wake County jail after a first court appearance Thursday.

Alder Marin Sotelo, 25, stood before a judge at his first Wake County court appearance after he and his brother were indicted by a grand jury Tuesday.

Both are charged with murder in the killing of Wake County deputy Ned Byrd, 48, this month. A magistrate denied Marin Sotelo bail earlier today, and Judge Rishad Hauter didn’t change it during the Thursday hearing.

Byrd, a K-9 officer and 13-year veteran of the sheriff’s department, was found outside his unmarked Sheriff’s Office SUV around 1 a.m. Friday, Aug. 12, near a gas station on Auburn Knightdale and Battle Bridge roads. He had multiple gunshot wounds.

Marin Sotelo, who was handcuffed and shackled, wore a striped orange jumpsuit and answered “yes” and “no” questions through a translator. During the hearing, Hauter advised Marin Sotelo of the charge and appointed an attorney to represent him. About 30 people, including Sheriff Gerald Baker and other deputies, were in the courtroom.

If the brothers are convicted of murder, they could face the death penalty or life in prison.

District Attorney Lorrin Freeman has said she will decide in the next three months whether her office will seek the death penalty. Freeman wrote in a text to The News & Observer that the investigation is ongoing, but additional arrests aren’t expected.

“At this time we don’t expect more charges,” Freeman wrote.

Investigation into Ned Byrd’s killing

Multiple agencies assisted the Wake Sheriff’s Office in the investigation into Byrd’s killing, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the State Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Marshals Service.

The two brothers were identified after federal officials analyzed cellphone usage in the area where Byrd was found dead and narrowed down the suspects, a person familiar with the investigation said. Federal and other officials then tracked the brothers before taking them in custody in Burke County on Aug. 16.

The two brothers have since taken different paths in the criminal justice system.

Arturo Marin Sotelo, 29, was taken to the Alamance County jail, where we was arrested on Aug. 18 on the murder charge and taken to Wake County. He is currently being held in the Wake jail on no bail.

After officials took the two brothers in custody, Alder Marin Sotelo faced a federal charge of possession of a firearm by an illegal alien. It stemmed from a July 2021 citation by a state trooper in Chapel Hill that included a charge of carrying a concealed weapon. The charge was put on hold, or dismissed with leave, after Alder Marin Sotelo failed to show up for court twice, according to court documents.

Third brother

Also on Aug. 16, a third brother was pulled over by a Forsyth County deputy on a suspicion of illegal tint and a fictitious tag.

Rolando Marin Sotelo, 18, faced a federal charge of “possession of ammunition by an illegal alien,” after two boxes of 9 mm bullets were found on the front passenger-side floorboard of the Nissan Sentra he was driving, according to court documents. He is being held on that charge in the Forsyth County jail.

Rolando Marin Sotelo’s attorney, Dylan Greenwood, said he doesn’t believe that charge is connected to the investigation of Byrd’s death.

On Aug. 17, law enforcement officials found in Winston-Salem the pickup truck believed to be used in Byrd’s shooting.

On Aug. 19, hundreds gathered in Raleigh for Byrd’s funeral with mourners remembering him as a loyal friend with a passion for adventure.

“The biggest muscle in Ned’s body was his heart,” said his close friend Jason Culbreth at Byrd’s Aug. 19 funeral service attended by hundreds of people, many of them law enforcement. “He gave and gave, and because of this, he received a lot of love.”


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