Brothers, woman plead guilty in Catawba County murder

Brothers, woman plead guilty in Catawba County murder

CATAWBA COUNTY, N.C. — Two brothers accused in the beating death of an elderly man in Catawba County pleaded guilty in the case.

Prosecutors said they tried to cover up the crime by burying the victim in a shallow grave and covering him with a layer of concrete.

Prosecutors had some strong evidence in the case from a video of the men buying the bags of concrete to a confession from one of their girlfriends.

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Thomas and Rodney Ball were arrested in 2016 after the body of 78-year-old Benny Daniels was found at his home near Hickory. Investigators said Thomas Ball rented a room from Daniels and beat him to death with a hammer after the two got into an argument.

Prosecutors said deputies became suspicious after finding blood evidence inside the home. The prosecutors said the men and Thomas Ball’s girlfriend, Tabitha Harrison, helped to conceal the death by staging a break-in at the home.

“As a Christian, we are supposed to forgive,” said Lee Jan Wardell, Daniels' daughter.

She spoke about her faith Monday and the importance of forgiveness after Thomas Ball plead guilty to second-degree murder. His brother and Harrison pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact to second-degree murder and concealment of a death.

“I have personally prayed for Thomas, Rodney and Tabitha since this has happened,” Wardell said. “I have asked that Jesus will save their souls from eternal punishment.”

Thomas Ball was sentenced to 20 years

Rodney Ball and Harrison got less prison time because they did not commit the murder. They also received credit for the three years they’ve already been in jail.

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