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Church Hill man indicted on first-degree murder charge in wife's shooting death

Jeff Bobo • Aug 22, 2017 at 5:15 PM

ROGERSVILLE — The Church Hill man accused of fatally shooting his wife in the presence of their 2-year-old child in January and then claiming self defense was indicted Monday by the Hawkins County grand jury on charges of first-degree murder and felony reckless endangerment.

Bryan "Steven" Lawson, 34, is charged in connection with the Jan. 27 shooting death of his wife, Beth "Chandra" Lawson, 40, in their apartment at 914 Holliston Mills Road in Church Hill.

Their 2-year-old son was standing beside Mrs. Lawson at the time of the shooting.

Mr. Lawson remains free on $200,000 bond pending arraignment in Hawkins County Criminal Court set for Aug. 31.

Church Hill police said the shooting, as well as the events leading up to the shooting, were captured by an in-house video surveillance system.

Defense attorney Larry Boyd told the Times-News following Mr. Lawson's preliminary hearing in April that the shooting was self defense and Lawson had been assaulted by his wife and threatened with a baseball bat prior to the shooting.

The surveillance video doesn't have sound, but Mr. Lawson reportedly claims that his wife threatened to drown their son in a nearby pond prior to the shooting, Boyd added.

Boyd described Mrs. Lawson as "a very aggressive woman" with previous military training, and she hit him approximately 15 times the morning of Jan. 27 before the shooting.

The video reportedly reveals the couple were involved in a domestic dispute prior to the shooting.

During the argument, Mrs. Lawson walks away from her husband.

The video reportedly reveals that Mr. Lawson walked outside, returned with a .45 caliber handgun and sat in a recliner. While sitting in the recliner, he concealed the handgun and Mrs. Lawson returned to the room with the child.

Mrs. Lawson appears to argue with Mr. Lawson and strike him in the head with an open hand. The video then reportedly shows Mr. Lawson firing the weapon from inside his pocket, striking Mrs. Lawson in the stomach. Mrs. Lawson fell to the floor, and Mr. Lawson then reportedly gets out of the recliner and stands over her while pointing the gun at her.

That video hasn't been released to the public.

Mr. Lawson faces the possibility of life in prison without parole if found guilty.                                                                                      

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