Hawkins man indicted in brother-in-law's death

Jeff Bobo • Dec 11, 2012 at 9:05 AM

ROGERSVILLE — A Blountville man accused of shooting his brother-in-law over a potential civil lawsuit was indicted Monday on one count of first-degree murder by a Hawkins County grand jury.

Bryant Jackson Harris, 61, 458 J.H. Fauver Road, Blountville, was originally charged with attempted first-degree murder in connection with the July 21, 2011, shooting of his brother-in-law, Jeffery O. Smith, 38, at Smith’s residence in the Hawkins County section of Kingsport.

Smith died in January, and prosecutors said Smith’s autopsy revealed that he died from injuries that resulted from being shot by Harris the previous July.

Smith suffered gunshot wounds to his groin, upper abdomen and left arm.

Police said Harris’ gun misfired during the attack, preventing additional gunshot wounds.

This past July, a preliminary hearing was held in Hawkins County Sessions Court in which two Kingsport police officers and an eyewitness testified.

The eyewitness testified he heard Harris and Smith arguing and then heard a shot, at which time he went to see what was happening and saw Harris shoot Smith.

Harris was apprehended at the scene.

Police allege that potential litigation was the motive for the shooting. Harris’s wife had reportedly benefited from a wrongful death lawsuit settlement involving the death of Smith’s mother.

Shortly before the shooting, Smith had involved an attorney who had reportedly made contact with Harris about Smith’s potential claim on a share of the settlement funds.

Harris remains free on his same $350,000 bond, with arraignment scheduled for Thursday before Judge John Dugger in Hawkins County Criminal Court.

Other indictments handed down Monday by the Hawkins County grand jury include:

• Melissa Ann Helton, 42, 5274 Highway 11-W, Rogersville, 43 counts of identity theft and one count of forgery.

• Kevin Lance Henry, 28, 1920 Bowater Drive, Kingsport, aggravated burglary and theft over $1,000.

• Nicholas Wayne Hollis, 21, 2601 N. John B. Dennis Highway, Kingsport, mitigated statutory rape.

• Courtney Nicole Ramey, 25, 1920 Bowater Lane Apt. 12, Kingsport, initiating the process to manufacture meth and possession of drug paraphernalia.

• Andrew David Shelton, 42, Branson, Mo., violation of the sex offender registry.

• Travis Michael West, 25, 131 Dogwood Lane, Lot 4, Rogersville, burglary and theft over $1,000.

• Melvin Oliver Skelton, 36, 131 Lynch Road, Church Hill, promotion of manufacturing meth and possession of drug paraphernalia.

• Frankie Joe Benton, 29, 2007 Walters Drive, Bulls Gap, possession of Schedule IV narcotics for deliver, possession of salvia divinorum A and possession of drug paraphernalia.

• Zaron Nathan Christian, 51, 153 Hoard Lane, No. 26, Church Hill, burglary and theft over $500.

• Canadia Collins, 35, 235 Manor Drive, Sneedville, introduction of drugs into a penal institution.

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