Henderson County woman indicted on 1st-degree murder in Laurel Park homicide

HENDERSONVILLE - A Henderson County woman who was charged with second-degree murder on Jan. 7 after a Laurel Park man was found dead at his home was indicted on a first-degree murder charge Jan. 30 by a grand jury at the Henderson County Courthouse.

Vanessa Ledbetter makes her first Superior Court appearance on Jan. 31 at the Henderson County Courthouse after being indicted for first-degree murder in the death of a Laurel Park man at his home on Jan. 7.
Vanessa Ledbetter makes her first Superior Court appearance on Jan. 31 at the Henderson County Courthouse after being indicted for first-degree murder in the death of a Laurel Park man at his home on Jan. 7.

Vanessa Ledbetter, 38, made her first Superior Court appearance Jan. 31. She is charged with the murder of 58-year-old Robin Bracken, who had made an incomplete 911 call Jan. 7, according to the Laurel Park Police Department. Laurel Park Police Chief Bobbie Trotter said Bracken was found dead in the back patio area of his home when officers arrived.

Assistant Laurel Park Police Chief Michael Capps told the Times-News on Jan. 31 that it was a domestic dispute that resulted in a fatal stabbing.

"It was a domestic situation. They were a couple," Capps said.

In North Carolina, the two possible sentences for first-degree murder are life in prison without parole or the death penalty. District Attorney Andrew Murray said he's not able to speak specifically about ongoing cases, but he did provide an explanation for the change in Ledbetter's charges.

"The facts were presented to the grand jury (on Jan. 30), and based on those facts, she was indicted for first-degree murder, and the second-degree murder charge was dismissed," he said.

The Jan. 31 court docket showed her scheduled to appear in Superior Court, but she appeared in District Court. Murray addressed Superior Court Judge William Stetzer just before the court was taking a morning break and requested Ledbetter make an appearance there instead.

More: Woman charged with murder of Laurel Park man makes 1st court appearance

"District Court Judge (E. James) Marshall made the recommendation that Vanessa Ledbetter appear in Superior Court, since Superior Court was in session today," Murray said.

Stetzer agreed, and at 11:20 a.m., Ledbetter was brought into Superior Court. Stetzer went over Ledbetter's affidavit with her and noted that she had appointed attorney Michael Edney as her counsel.

"The court is also to consider bond in this case. For a first-degree murder charge, bond is not required, and the court declines to set one," he said.

"So there's no way of getting bond today?" Ledbetter asked.

"Not today," Stetzer said.

Ledbetter continued asking about the bond, and Stetzer stopped her and said he wouldn't talk to her without her attorney present and suggested when she saw her attorney again to talk to him about it.

Stetzer set Ledbetter's next court date for Feb. 29.

Dean Hensley is the news editor for the Hendersonville Times-News. Email him with tips, questions and comments at DHensley@gannett.com. Please help support this kind of local journalism with a subscription to the Hendersonville Times-News.

This article originally appeared on Hendersonville Times-News: Henderson Co. woman indicted on 1st-degree murder of Laurel Park man