Benny Birchfield, husband of the late Jean Shepard, will not be charged after the fatal shooting of 21-year old Travis Sanders.
Det. Sgt. Jim Vaughn told reporters Tuesday that Birchfield was acting in self-defense when he shot and killed the man inside his home following a stabbing in the early morning hours of December 17.
According to Vaughn, 79-year old Birchfield arrived home early Saturday morning and heard a disturbance in the basement. He began to call for his granddaughter, Icie Hawkins, who lived with him.
“He thought he heard (Hawkins), but he didn’t know for sure what she was saying,” Vaughn said during a press conference. “He went down to investigate and… that is when he was confronted by Mr. Sanders.”
Sanders attacked Birchfield with a 10-inch knife that had also been used to stab Hawkins. Birchfield suffered cuts to the neck and head. Birchfield then shot the 21-year-old five times in self-defense with his .38-caliber pistol.
Police arrived at the home around 3 a.m. where they found Birchfield in the front yard. Sanders was pronounced dead at the scene. Hawkins died on the way to the hospital from what police called self-defense wounds and upper body injuries.
“This is still an active and ongoing investigation,” Vaughn said. “It’s going to take some time. In order to find a motive we’re going to have to interview a lot of friends and family.”
“We’ve got all the answers now except for the why,” he added.
Hawkins' mother, Velvet Sloan, spoke to the press Monday and said that Hawkins had been living with her grandparents to help her grandmother who had Parkinson's disease. Shepard died in late September and Hawkins continued to live with Birchfield to be of help.
Birchfield released a handwritten note from the hospital and it was read during Tuesday's press conference.
“I would like to thank the Hendersonville police and fire departments for their quick response and professionalism during this tragic time,” he wrote. “I also want to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers, and for those who have asked, I am okay and my wounds are slowly healing.”
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