A Jennings County man who fatally shot his daughter’s 24-year-old companion in the front yard of a North Vernon home was justified in his use of deadly force, County Prosecutor Alan Marshall announced.
No formal charges will be filed against Donald Ray Williams, 57, who lives in Commiskey on the southern edge of the county. The prosecutor’s office ruled Wednesday that the shooting of Jeremy Moore was in self-defense.
Williams was arrested Sept. 9 on a preliminary charge of reckless homicide immediately following the fatal shooting of Moore. The incident occurred in the front yard of the home that Moore shared with Williams’ daughter, Brittany Spicer, in the 300 block of Franklin Street.
Williams spent one night behind bars before he was released on a $2,605 bond.
Jennings County investigators and Marshall’s office remained tight-lipped on nearly every aspect of the investigation over the next five weeks.
But on Wednesday, Marshall released the following account of the shooting, as well as the events leading up to Moore’s death, in a four-page statement:
Moore recently had tested positive for use of unauthorized opiates twice while a patient at a drug rehabilitation clinic in Charlestown. As a result, Moore’s doctors repeatedly warned the North Vernon man against mixing other medications with the methadone provided to treat his addiction.
Nevertheless, on the morning of his death, Moore had taken a psychoactive drug before receiving his methadone treatment, the statement said. That drug, called benzodiazepine, is known to cause aggression in many users.
When Moore returned home from the clinic that morning, he told Spicer, the mother of his 4-month-old child, that he had to go to the hospital emergency room to get help with his blood pressure, the prosecutor said. After arriving at St. Vincent Jennings Hospital, Moore was treated for drug-
After he returned home, Spicer told him that her father had been upset by both his drug use and other behavior around children, according to the report. In response, Moore called Williams on his cellphone and asked him to return to the Franklin Street residence to talk out their issues.
Williams went inside the home and exchanged harsh words with Moore. As Spicer left the home with her child, her father and boyfriend followed her out into the front yard. Investigators noted that Moore’s last words to Spicer were: “Just remember, I will always love you.”
Moments after a neighbor picked up Spicer and her child to drive them away, witnesses saw Moore lunge and swing at his girlfriend’s father. According to Williams, Moore was taunting him by pushing him multiple times before picking up a pair of vise grips and waving them in the air.
While Williams refused to fight and tried to turn and walk away, Moore punched him in the side of the face and struck him once more before Williams began to black out, the report said. Moore was continuing his attack
on Williams when the Commiskey man grabbed a .38-caliber revolver from his vest and shot Moore twice in the chest.
Marshall also pointed out that Moore was aware that Williams carried the permitted weapon before he began the physical assault.
Evidence found at the scene, as well as autopsy reports, support Williams’ version of the events, Marshall said. In addition, 911 recordings show Williams immediately called police after the shooting and reported that he shot Moore in self-defense. Marshall also noted that Williams remained cooperative with investigators throughout the investigation.
Hospital records show Williams suffered three fractures to his jawbone and a nose fracture as the result of the confrontation. Williams had no injuries to his hands, indicating that he had not been in a fight. And Moore had no injuries that indicated he had been struck, the report said.
Indiana law states that people may use deadly force if they have a reasonable belief that they are about to suffer serious bodily injury or death.
Marshall said the decision against filing formal charges in the case was made after a thorough review of police findings, witness interviews, photographs, and autopsy and toxicology reports.