Originally published: May 25, 2010, 9:24 a.m.
Updated: May 26, 2010, 9:40 a.m.

Adam Courtney Hartley

LEXINGTON, N.C. — A man has been charged in the fatal shooting of his partner of 11 years in rural Davidson County.

Adam Courtney Hartley, 39, of 9051 S. N.C. Highway 150, was charged with first degree murder on early Sunday morning after he called 911 to report the accidental shooting of his partner, William “Wil” Dean Sink, 29.

Shortly after 1 a.m., Hartley told 911 operators he was beginning CPR on Sink, who was pronounced dead when Davidson County Sheriff deputies and paramedics arrived. There, deputies found Sink lying nude in the doorway to the mobile home.

Hartley told detectives he accidentally shot Sink because he thought someone was trying to break into his home.

Chris Williams, a close friend of the couple told qnotes the couple’s relationship had always been rocky in the four years he knew them.

“It’s been going on the whole time I’ve known them,” Williams said. “Back in 2008 was the first time that it was noticeable enough to me that there was a problem.”

Williams says Hartley and Sink had been together since Sink was 18, and that he’d been told the abuse had been present long before he met the two. Williams believes Hartley’s escalating domestic violence resulted in the murder.

“It kept getting more and more physical,” Williams said. “It started out being a shove or a push or a cussing out. A lot of it was extremely verbal at first. As the years progressed and Adam [Hartley] became territorial of Wil [Sink] it got worse.”

Williams said one of the worst assaults occurred about a year ago, when Hartley hit Sink in the head with the butt of a gun. He added that Sink and Hartley often had an “on-again and off-again” relationship and that Sink often left Hartley but later returned after Hartley became apologetic and “like Casanova.”

Lori Linville, a friend of Sink, said she often felt as though he were being controlled by Hartley.

“I talked to him a couple times a month,” she said. “When he called, we’d be talking and he’d stop and say, ‘I’ve got to go. He’s back.’ I told him something’s not right when you can’t talk to your friends around your lover.”

Linville said she thought Sink felt trapped in the relationship. During one conversation about the abuse, she said Sink told her, “It’s all I’ve ever known.”

She also said she found it curious her friend was found nude, and doesn’t buy Hartley’s reported “accidental shooting” statements. “When we would chat over the phone and I’d ask him what he was doing, he’d always say something like ‘I’m laying in bed naked watching movies,'” she said.

Davidson County Sheriff David Grice said he couldn’t comment on Hartley’s motive.

“I’m not at liberty to comment on a lot of the questions you just asked,” Grice said, responding to qnotes‘ inquiry regarding domestic violence in the relationship. “However, I will say that I am cognizant of your concerns.”

Official communication from the Sheriff has not indicated Hartley’s and Sink’s relationships. The (Lexington) Dispatch, along with other local media, have reported the two were “roommates.” Grice couldn’t comment on the matter but said he and his investigators were pursuing the case as they would any other.

Hartley was charged at 3:39 a.m. on May 23. According to The Dispatch a search warrant was issued shortly after 5 a.m. During the search of the home, investigators found a Smith & Wesson .357-caliber handgun. A spent shell casing was found at the door, and the gun had five live rounds left. Four other firearms and ammunition were also recovered. Two vehicles on the property were also searched.

Hartley’s first appearance was on May 24. He’s currently being held without bond in the Davidson County jail. Grice said Hartley has chosen to retain an attorney and has not been cooperative during the initial phases of the investigation.

The alleged domestic violence-related murder of Sink case comes nearly two years after the slaying of Lexington resident Samantha Leath Gutierrez, 35, by her girlfriend Tammy Starlette Miller West, 44 (see “Couple‚Äôs dispute ends with slaying”). That couple’s history of domestic violence was also well known among friends. In that case, however, Gutierrez had filed for and received a domestic violence restraining order against West. At the time, The Dispatch also covered that case as a murder between “roommates.”

This is a developing story: Stay tuned to goqnotes-launch2.newspackstaging.com for more details.

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.