Murder suspect had just applied for custody of children

Published 1:36 pm Thursday, October 3, 2019

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The Mocksville man accused of killing his father-in-law Sept. 16 has been appointed an attorney and is scheduled to appear in district court Oct. 10.

Harley Harrison Gunter, 25, was charged with first-degree murder after Robert Szabocsan, 54, was found shot to death at a home off US 601 just south of Mocksville. The incident was believed to be domestic related, according to Lt. Scott Kimel. Gunter has been held without bond since his arrest.

Gunter’s wife, Megan, made the call to 911.

In late June, Megan sought a no-contact order against Szabocsan, saying she had voluntarily taken a polygraph test in May to prove Szabocsan had sexually assaulted her as a child. In the civil suit, she said, “Robert has made comments stating he thinks we could ‘work it out.’ Robert has been an aggressive person the entire time I have known him.”

She goes on to say he once hit her so hard it knocked her glasses off. She has known Szabocsan, who worked at Christy Trucking, since she was 4 years old. A hearing date for the civil suit was set for July 5 but Megan did not pursue the case further.

Harley and Megan were married Sept. 20, 2016 and separated in early September when Megan was involuntarily committed at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. The public record states she attempted suicide Sept. 3 by taking a large quantity of pills. It was allegedly her second suicide attempt, the first one having failed two months prior when she took a large quantity of pills while the children were in her care.

On Sept. 4, Harley filed for custody of the couple’s three young children and sought to have Megan prohibited from returning to the home they shared.

In those documents, Harley said Megan has a history of angry and violent outbursts toward him, often in the presence of the children, that she has broken numerous televisions in the home, and that she tried to break his arm during a mental breakdown the day after consuming 14 Ativan pills.

She told Harley after she was released from the hospital, she planned to move to Connecticut and leave the children with him.

The document states Harley has been the primary source of financial stability for the family, was active in the day-to-day care of the children, and “is the person best suited to provide for the care, custody and control” of the children.

Megan left letters for all the children before her suicide attempt, telling them how much she loved them.

In a letter to Harley, she told him he had failed her and did not want him to fail the children, and to her mother, she said she could no longer live “in this nightmare.”

Although there was no name on it, there was an expletive-laced short note to someone else in her life expressing her desire they “rott in hell.”

It is unclear what provoked the attack by Harley on Szabocsan.

Patricia Riddick, an attorney in Mooresville, has been appointed to represent him.