Local News

July 2, 2014

Man to claim self-defense in December killing in Murray

A Chatsworth man charged with involuntary manslaughter in the 2013 death of his mother’s boyfriend pleaded not guilty on Wednesday and his attorney said he will claim self-defense.

“He had a justification to use force against someone who actually pulled a weapon on him,” Rex Abernathy said of John Dwight Phillips, who entered the plea before Judge Jack Partain in Murray County Superior Court. The trial is scheduled to start Oct. 6.

Abernathy said he couldn’t comment too much since he has not yet seen all of the evidence the prosecution plans to present.

Phillips is charged in the death of Tommy Walraven, 63, of Crandall, who died Dec. 27 at Hamilton Medical Center. A day earlier, at about 4:30 a.m., a sheriff’s deputy found him beaten and unconscious lying on his girlfriend’s living room floor at her home on Smyrna Church Road. The deputy called for an ambulance.

According to an incident report, the deputy came to the home when the woman, Terry Welch, called authorities after Walraven and her son, Phillips, got into an argument. According to the report, Phillips told the deputy he had ordered Walraven to leave the house after the two began arguing over how Phillips was handling an issue with his wife, and that’s when Walraven grabbed a shotgun and pointed it at his stomach. Phillips said he began hitting Walraven in the face in self-defense.

The deputy wrote in his report that he planned to charge Walraven for pointing a gun. Alcohol was involved, according to the report.


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