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Man sentenced to prison in DuPont Estates murder

A 39-year-old Hendersonville man was sentenced to up to 46½ years in prison on April 27 after pleading guilty  to second-degree murder in the stabbing death of his girlfriend in 2018.

Superior Court Judge Peter Knight sentenced Terry Jason Brank to at least 38 years in prison, District Attorney R. Andrew Murray announced.

According to court trial records and testimony during a sentencing hearing, Henderson County sheriff's deputies responded to a 911 call for a welfare check concerning the defendant’s girlfriend, Laura Cox, around 10 p.m. on July 10, 2018. The caller, a neighbor of Cox's in the Dupont Estates community, reported being concerned for Cox's safety after Brank told a different neighbor that Cox was dead in their shared trailer. The caller reported Brank was intoxicated and belligerent.

The caller attempted to access the trailer where Cox lived but the door was locked, and Cox failed to respond to her repeated knocking. When deputies arrived, they were met by Brank who exited the trailer and was extremely impaired. Brank immediately blurted out that he had messed up and killed her and that he was sorry for what he had done and that he loved her, according to investigators' testimony. Brank’s clothes appeared to be blood spattered. Once Brank was secured by deputies, they entered the trailer and found Cox dead on the floor of a bedroom wrapped up in a sheet. She had been stabbed to death, and it was apparent to deputies that she had been deceased for quite some time.

Brank was evaluated for diminished capacity as a defense, and for his mental competency to stand trial. He was found to have significant mental impairments but ultimately found to be minimally competent to stand trial and participate in his own defense with appointed counsel.

Assistant District Attorney Doug Mundy handled the prosecution and sentencing hearing. Murray thanked the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office for professionalism in making a thorough murder investigation.