Rockwell man charged with murder makes first court appearance

Published 1:49 pm Monday, December 21, 2015

By Shavonne Walker

A Rockwell man charged with murder over the weekend made his first court appearance this morning in district court. Jessie Gary Rhodes, 35, walked into the courtroom wearing a Rowan County Detention Center-issued orange jumpsuit and was handcuffed and shackled as he listened to Judge Beth Dixon Monday.

Rhodes was charged Friday in the death of 57-year-old James Michael Beam, who’d been reported missing in July but had not been seen since Easter.

Rowan County authorities received information that Beam, of Richfield, had been murdered and his body was disposed of, officials have said. On Dec. 12, hunters discovered the decomposed remains of a human on the side of a hill, located off of Bringle Ferry Road near River Road.

Officials identified the remains as that of James Beam. Rhodes had been developed as a suspect and an arrest was made.

Dixon explained to Rhodes that he’d be appointed a provisional attorney until indigent defense services were contacted. Initially, attorney Drew Cochran was appointed. However, Michael Adkins, a fellow attorney with his firm spoke up and said a conflict existed so Cochran would not be able to represent Rhodes.

Attorney David Bingham was then appointed as a provisional attorney.

District Attorney Brandy Cook, who spoke briefly during the short hearing, said the case is in its early stages and it had not been determined whether the case will proceed as a capital murder case.

Rhodes spoke only to answer questions by the judge. He did say he was employed in Rockwell, but assumed since he’d been charged with murder he no longer had a job and would need a court-appointed attorney. Rhodes has a pending misdemeanor possession of marijuana charge. He was charged Dec. 2 with that offense.

A probable cause hearing is scheduled Jan. 13 at 9 a.m. Rhodes remains in the Rowan County jail without bond.