A Texas grand jury declined last week to return a bill of indictment for a man accused of fatally shooting a Burleson County sheriff’s deputy as police conducted a raid on his home.
KBTX News reports 28-year-old Henry Magee admits that he shot Deputy Adam Sowders, but has maintained since the Dec. 19, 2013, shooting that he was justified in doing so because he had no idea it was police who were raiding his home and he was protecting his pregnant girlfriend, who was home at the time.
Prosecutors were seeking an indictment for a charge of capital murder.
Police conducted the “no-knock” raid on the home after receiving a tip from an informant that Magee was a drug dealer in the area and had weapons in the home.
According to a story from The Washington Post, the informant had told police they would find about a dozen 6-foot pot plants in the house. The informant also reportedly told police Magee had a vicious dog in his house and a number of guns, including one weapon that might have been stolen from the Burleson County Sheriff’s Department.
In the course of the raid Sowders was shot and killed.
“I think the facts in Henry’s case were just too troubling for the grand jury to indict,” Magee’s attorney, Dick DeGuerin, told The Washington Post. “You have Henry and his pregnant girlfriend waking up to people breaking into their house. A flash bang goes off. I think most people can set aside the drug question, and put themselves in his shoes.”
DeGuerin said the subsequent search of the property turned up only two marijuana plants, each about 6 inches tall. Police also found about an ounce of dried marijuana and several seedlings. The alleged stolen gun was not in the home. Magee did have four guns, all legally owned, and three were locked in a safe at the time of the raid, DeGuerin said.
The defense attorney said the whole raid was pointless and didn’t have to end with the tragedy of a fatally shot officer.
“It need not have happened," DeGuerin said. "They could have walked up to his house in the daylight and he would have let him in or they could have stopped him as he left his house to go to the store."
The grand jury did return an indictment on felony drug charges that stem from Magee possessing both drugs and a weapon.
Following the grand jury’s decision, District Attorney Julie Renken’s office issued a statement saying: “The Burleson County Sheriff's Office would not have been there that day if Mr. Magee had not decided to live a lifestyle of doing and producing illegal drugs in his home. Therefore, we will fully prosecute the drug charges against him.”
Magee remains in jail. His bond has been lowered to $50,000.
Photo Credit: Police photo via KBTX News, WikiCommons