Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

July 31, 2013

Murder charge dropped

Authorities say Hahira case is closed

HAHIRA — Murder charges against David Harrelson, 66, of Hahira were officially dismissed this week, and he was released from the Lowndes County Jail where he has been held since the January shooting death of a neighbor.

On Jan. 4, authorities responded to a shooting on Union Road in Hahira. A reported dispute between neighbors escalated to the point of violence, with Harrelson accused of shooting Joshua Commander, 38, after he came on Harrelson’s property and confronted him. Harrelson shot Commander once, according to the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office, and Commander died on the scene.

Harrelson was arrested and charged with murder in January, and following his preliminary hearing before Magistrate Judge Joni Parker on Feb. 19, the charges were reduced to voluntary manslaughter due to the “absence of malice,” as indicated on the judge’s order, dated March 9.

The transcript from the February preliminary hearing states that Commander had complained about Harrelson using an air horn, upsetting the Commanders’ dogs. In the testimony, according to the transcript, when Commander came onto Harrelson’s property, Harrelson retrieved his firearm and when Commander approached him on his porch, “according to Mr. Harrelson, assaulted him either with the door or with his fist. He then shot Mr. Commander.”

According to Harrelson’s attorney, Mike Bass of Closson, Bass and Tomberlin, Harrelson had visible marks and injuries on his face, which a deputy also testified to in the court document.

At the preliminary hearing, according to the transcript, Bass stated, “Well, I would argue that saying that without malice leaves only one option for murder, and that would be felony murder ... you’ve either got malice aforethought that caused the death of somebody or it’s a felony

murder, or it’s not murder at all ... At the very maximum, I would say this is possibly a involuntary manslaughter, possibly a voluntary manslaughter, but I don’t see how this is a murder, based on what we heard today.”

Judge Parker ruled on March 9 and reduced the charge from murder to voluntary manslaughter.

Bass said Harrelson received a bond hearing in April, but was unable to post the bond, and therefore was in jail from the day he was arrested until he was recently released. Bass said the evidence in the case was presented to the Lowndes County Grand Jury, and according to the sheriff’s office, in the dismissal notice dated Monday, July 29, issued by the Southern District Attorney’s office, “Upon investigation, the criminal warrant(s) in the above-styled case is hereby dismissed because of lack of prosecution/ evidence.”

Bass said the evidence in the case pointed to self defense. “This was a just outcome.”

1
Text Only
Local News
  • water.jpg New equipment expected to deal with Lowndes water violations

    The Lowndes County Commission’s recent approval of $1.6 million for water-treatment equipment is expected to counter a past series of water-quality violations within the county.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • 142314-Goodwill.jpg Goodwill hosts the Mexican Consulate

    Mexican citizens living in South Georgia have spent this week lining up at the Valdosta Goodwill to meet with the Mexican Consulate to obtain Mexican government issued identification.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140723-Tree001.jpg Chamber plants 100th centennial tree

    Founded in September 1912, the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce is one of the largest chambers in the state.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140723 - Operation M#10E3C7.JPG Veterans First

    With Moody Air Force Base expecting to lose 300 to 400 personnel due to government cutbacks, area organizations are working with military personnel about to enter the civilian work force.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • Lowndes increases millage rate

    For the first time since 1999, the Lowndes County Commission voted Wednesday to increase the millage rate.

    July 24, 2014

  • dui memorial 1.jpg Memorial honors woman killed in DUI case

    More than a week after the man responsible for her death was sentenced to five years in jail, a memorial sign has been placed at the site where Sheila Foster-Lamb was hit and killed by an impaired driver while she was on her way to work.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • City of Valdosta holds two millage hearings today

    The City of Valdosta adopted its 2015 Fiscal Year budget on June 19.

    July 24, 2014

  • Quitman body identified

    The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has identified the body of a man found in Quitman Tuesday and have ruled his death a suicide.

    July 24, 2014

  • EOM July 2014.jpg Sgt. Jonathan Yeargin Honored as July 2014 Employee of the Month

    Valdosta Mayor John Gayle and Fire Chief Freddie Broome honored Jonathan Yeargin as the July 2014 Employee of the Month at the July 10 City Council meeting.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Clay Griner.jpeg Griner wins Lowndes commission runoff

    A long nine-week runoff election between Clay Griner and G. Norman Bennett came to an end Tuesday night with Griner beating Bennett by 1,060 votes, with approximately 70 provisional ballots left to count.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

School starts again in about two weeks. What do you think?

It's still summer. School starts too soon.
Seems like the right time to return.
Abolish summer recess. Make school year-round.
     View Results