Drunken argument leads to murder

An argument between impaired friends turned deadly early Tuesday morning when a Caldwell County man shot and killed a Conover resident outside his home, authorities said.

Caldwell County authorities arrested Ricky A. Annas, 50, of Granite Falls, later Tuesday and charged him with murder in the death of J.W. Smith Jr., 38, of Conover. He is being held at the Catawba County jail without bond.

Catawba County sheriff’s deputies responded to the shooting at about 1:49 a.m. to find Smith shot, according the sheriff’s report.

Annas was one of several people gathered outside the residence of David Hughes at 5375 Otto Lane in Conover, where Smith also lived. When two women started arguing, Annas and Smith stepped in and got into a confrontation, said Catawba County Sheriff Coy Reid. Annas then took a .25-caliber pistol and shot Smith once in the chest area, according to the sheriff’s report.

Smith was flown to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, but he died later Tuesday morning from his injuries.

The gun was recovered by investigators.

Annas left the scene and returned to his home, where he was picked up by deputies from the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office around 3:45 a.m.

He was taken to Catawba County and transferred to the custody of deputies with the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office at about 4:40 a.m. just across the Catawba River at Arby’s on U.S. 321.

Reid said the suspect, victim and women involved all knew each other and were friendly to each other prior to the argument.

He added that Annas confessed to having consumed alcohol, and the sheriff’s report also said the involved parties were drinking alcohol.

“It was a matter of drinking and arguing,” Catawba County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Joel Fish said. “I’m sure (alcohol consumption) was a factor.”

Fish said the murder is the eighth in Catawba County this year, higher than the normal average of about six per year in the county.