Second suspect in Smith County murder arrested

Second suspect in Smith County murder arrested

SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - Smith County Sheriff's Office deputies have arrested a second man in connection with a murder case.

Officials believe the man attempted to destroy evidence after the murder occurred.

Dwayne Welch, 56, was taken into custody Tuesday at a residence in Tyler. He was booked into the Smith County Jail on a charge of tamper/fabricate physical evidence.

One other person was arrested in the case, Larry Cowart Jr., 40, of Tyler. Cowart is charged with murder.

The arrest stems from a June 9 homicide. About 2:20 a.m. that day, deputies responded to the 15500 block of County Road 1145 in reference to a shooting, SCSO says.

Deputies were told the victim had a gunshot wound to the chest, was being transported via private vehicle and traveling toward Highway 64 West and Loop 323.

A deputy spotted the vehicle matching the description that was given and initiated a traffic stop near the intersection of West Erwin Street and Loop 323 in Tyler.

The sheriff's office says the deputy saw a man, later identified as Heath Bearden, 43, unresponsive in the passenger seat with what appeared to be a gunshot wound to the chest. EMS was called to the scene.

Bearden died at the scene and was later pronounced dead by a justice of the peace. An autopsy has been ordered.

When questioned, witnesses said several people were in the shop area at Cowart's home when Bearden was shot by Cowart.

During an investigation, SCSO says investigators determined Welch attempted to destroy evidence after the murder occurred.

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