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Keokee man charged with first-degree murder

June 5th, 2007 12:00 am by Walter Littrell

JONESVILLE - A Keokee man has been charged with first-degree murder after he allegedly stabbed another man to death during a Sunday night fight at the victim's Reed's Creek residence.

Maj. Jimmy Woodard of the Lee County Sheriff's Department said Burlie Bernard Shepherd, 47, Route 1, Box 259-A, Keokee, was taken into custody about 3:15 p.m. Monday after he fled the murder scene.

Shepherd is accused of stabbing Franklin Creed Robbins, 36, Route 1, Box 291, Keokee, once in the chest with a steak knife during an altercation.

Woodard said the sheriff's department received the initial call at 10:17 p.m. Sunday requesting officers and an ambulance. When officers arrived at Robbins' residence, they observed him lying on the ground in the front yard. He was declared dead at the scene, and his body was sent to the state medical examiner's office for an autopsy.

Woodard said investigators spoke with several witnesses, who reported that the two men had been arguing either over a truck or money Robbins reportedly owed Shepherd. This argument led to an altercation that ended with the stabbing.

"Right now, we suspect alcohol was also a factor in the incident," said Woodard.

Investigators have recovered a steak knife they believe was used in the stabbing, he said.

Shepherd had fled the scene by the time officers arrived, and despite assistance from Virginia State Trooper Jason Nichols, his tracking dog and members of the Keokee Rescue Squad, the suspect could not be located that night. Woodard said because of activity in the area by rescue personnel and police officers, the dog was not able to locate a good track to follow. Investigators spent much of the day talking to members of the Shepherd family, who encouraged the suspect to voluntarily surrender, and he was taken into custody Monday afternoon without incident.

After being interviewed by investigators later, Shepherd was taken to the Duffield Regional Jail, where he is being held without bond. Arraignment will be Wednesday at 9 a.m. in Lee County General District Court.

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