DOBSON — A Superior Court judge signed an order Tuesday allowing the Surry County District Attorney’s Office to proceed with a capital murder case against Jordan Ross Lowdermilk.
Lowdermilk, 29, of Dobson, is charged with first-degree murder in the May death of Claudia Smith, an elderly Mount Airy resident.
Smith was found beaten to death in her home at 409 Franklin St. after city police officers were called there for a welfare check. Smith’s Nissan was missing when police arrived, and they later found the vehicle wrecked and abandoned near Interstate 77.
Lowdermilk, who was being sought on probation violations at the time of the crimes, is also accused in the stabbing of a motorist who was taking a rest break on I-77 that morning. The motorist, Bryan James Mace, survived the stabbing and was able to escape and call for help.
The state filed notice of intent to seek the death penalty in July.
North Carolina requires a “Rule 24” pretrial conference be held in all capital cases where the state must show sufficient evidence of at least one statutory aggravating circumstance.
Defense attorneys for Lowdermilk stipulated to that during the hearing Tuesday, addressing the court only to make a clarification.
“We’re not stipulating to the (existence of the) aggravating factor,” stated Vincent Rabil. “We agree they have evidence.”
The case was placed on the calendar for April 2017 for other motions that may emerge before a trial.
Lowdermilk is being held without bond in the Surry County Detention Center. Family members of both the defendant and the victim were present in the courtroom for the hearing.
Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.