Martinez teen kills Grovetown man during burglary

Fatal shooting was 'justifiable'

Thursday, March 1, 2012 12:06 PM
Last updated Friday, March 2, 2012 9:42 PM
  • Follow Crime & courts

For the second time this week, an armed Columbia County resident stopped a burglary – this time, with fatal results for a would-be burglar.

  Columbia County News Times
Columbia County News Times


Justin Anthony Stephens, 19, of Grovetown, was killed Wednesday night after breaking into a Martinez apartment, where the renter’s son shot him with a .22-caliber rifle, according to the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office.

Stephens and an unidentified accomplice knocked on the door of Bruce Barrett’s Petersburg Square apartment at about 7:30 p.m., sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris said. When Barrett cracked the door, the two men, dressed in black with bandanas over their faces, forced their way inside and struggled with Barrett and his 15-year-old son.

“The 15-year-old broke free, retrieved his father’s .22-caliber rifle and fired at least two shots,” Morris said, adding that Stephens was shot in the back.

Stephens was found on the ground just outside the apartment, Columbia County Coroner Vernon Collins said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

An autopsy Thursday performed at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab in Augusta determined that Stephens died from the gunshot to his back, in which the bullet lodged in his chest. He also was shot a second time in the left arm, Collins said.

“His actions are to be commended,” Morris said of the teen.

The 15-year-old will not be charged because his actions are considered justifiable homicide, Morris said.

Barrett is a bus driver for the Columbia County school system, and his wife, Kathleen, was home at the time of the incident.

Stephens’ accomplice ran away. Authorities set up a perimeter, but never found the second burglar, described as a short black man wearing all black and a bandana on his face.

“We activated the communicator (Columbia County Emergency Notification System) for that area alerting residents as to what just occurred,” Morris said.

Land lines are automatically included in the system, which sends voice or e-mail messages in a crisis. Residents can register their cellphone or e-mail address by visiting the sheriff’s office Web site at www.columbiacountyso.org.

On Monday morning, a Harlem resident confronted a suspicious man trying to break into his neighbor’s home and held him until deputies arrived. Two people have been charged in that incident.

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ripjones256
-1
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ripjones256 03/01/12 - 01:30 pm
0
0
Note to criminals visiting
Unpublished

Note to criminals visiting Columbia County -- you might want to find a safer line of work. We are not going to put up with your crap. We will defend our property and family -- to your death, if necessary. How about getting a job, and actually earning what you have.

raul
5336
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raul 03/01/12 - 01:43 pm
3
1
Still waiting for the

Still waiting for the details. Something doesn't sound right. Why commit a burglary at 730p.m. with people in the apartment. Maybe the two intruders had the wrong address.

Patty-P
3516
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Patty-P 03/01/12 - 01:57 pm
0
0
Raul, criminals are bold

Raul, criminals are bold these days.

raul
5336
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raul 03/01/12 - 02:10 pm
0
0
@Patty-P. Bold, high, or

@Patty-P. Bold, high, or both. I guess I don't think like a criminal so sometimes the behavior makes no sense.

raul
5336
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raul 03/01/12 - 02:16 pm
0
0
I just read on Channel 12

I just read on Channel 12 website, the intruders knocked on the door the renter opened the door and the intruders barged in. So this was more of a home invasion vs. a "creeping" burglary attempt.

Patty-P
3516
Points
Patty-P 03/01/12 - 02:29 pm
2
2
Drugs are almost always a

Drugs are almost always a factor. Raul, and that's why I don't get why people think legalizing drugs will make things better.

DawgnSC69
286
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DawgnSC69 03/01/12 - 02:38 pm
2
0
Since my earlier post was

Since my earlier post was withdrawn for "insensitivity" to the intruder that was killed, I'll praise the young man for defending his family. We should all learn lesson from this young man. Arm yourselves. Maybe it's the only way these criminals will learn.

xpresso1
68
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xpresso1 03/01/12 - 02:56 pm
4
0
I commend the young man as

I commend the young man as well for defending his family, its just a shame that he has to deal with taking a life because of someone being stupid. He is very young to have to deal with such an event hopefully he will get support in coping with this because while I totally agree it was justified, it still has to be traumatic that he took a life. People are crazy these days I just thank God he had the presence of mind to defend his family.

Dudeness
1546
Points
Dudeness 03/01/12 - 02:56 pm
1
1
Perhaps they will answer the

Perhaps they will answer the door WITH the rifle the next time someone they do not know comes knocking.

Granddaddy John
101
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Granddaddy John 03/01/12 - 03:43 pm
0
0
Well done young man,one well
Unpublished

Well done young man,one well placed shot is all it takes,and our tax dollars do not have to be spent on him.

TrulyWorried
15402
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TrulyWorried 03/01/12 - 04:41 pm
1
0
I shudder to think that

I shudder to think that opening the door with a weapon in your hand would have to become a standard procedure!

Babbit
0
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Babbit 03/01/12 - 06:04 pm
0
3
I'm sorry but...I knew Justin

I'm sorry but...I knew Justin Stephens and I would be one of many people to tell you...Justinn is not the type of guy to just do a stupid crime like this with no motive...this story is so far fetched and sketchy

GaStang22
910
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GaStang22 03/01/12 - 06:16 pm
0
0
Anyone else live in the area
Unpublished

Anyone else live in the area and the system failed to notify you????

augusta citizen
9698
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augusta citizen 03/01/12 - 07:54 pm
4
0
Babbit said, "Justinn (sic)

Babbit said, "Justinn (sic) is not the type of guy to just do a stupid crime like this with no motive"... What is an acceptable motive for doing a stupid crime like this? Just wondering.

Iwannakno
1533
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Iwannakno 03/01/12 - 08:03 pm
0
0
Yeah Ted Bundy's mom thought
Unpublished

Yeah Ted Bundy's mom thought he was a good guy too.

Patty-P
3516
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Patty-P 03/01/12 - 08:11 pm
0
0
Sadly, I think a large

Sadly, I think a large percentage of burglaries are committed by someone you know or someone who knows your routine.

walrus4ever
354
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walrus4ever 03/01/12 - 08:55 pm
2
0
I will not open my door to

I will not open my door to strangers without a pistol on my person. No exceptions. I will shoot to kill if they try a forcible entry, no exceptions.

stillamazed
1488
Points
stillamazed 03/01/12 - 09:44 pm
1
0
Criminals better wakeup and

Criminals better wakeup and realize that people are feed up and more and more people are willing to defend what is theirs. I hate this young man was put in this position but I commend him for doing what he did to defend his family. @Babbit, no ones ever knows another person that well,you may think you knew him that well but remember that women have been married to serial killers and had no clue what was going on in their own lives.

redapples
672
Points
redapples 03/01/12 - 10:40 pm
1
0
I personally know the young

I personally know the young man who shot the intruder. He is a kid with great character and morals who spends much of his time in sports and other after school activities. He has many friends who were worried about him and they are all of equally good character. I'm sure all the facts will be laid out soon, but this young man by all appearances is a bonafide hero!

RoadkiII
6703
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RoadkiII 03/02/12 - 02:43 am
0
0
Maybe some people didn't know

Maybe some people didn't know the kid as well as they thought they did.

NoHayManera
140
Points
NoHayManera 03/02/12 - 07:18 am
1
1
Killed by a .22 cal.? People

Killed by a .22 cal.? People have taken those to the head and survived... Fate must really have had it out for you Mr. Stephens. Can't say that you'll be missed.

Equaltreatmentforall
49
Points
Equaltreatmentforall 03/02/12 - 09:50 am
0
0
There is definitely more to

There is definitely more to this story.

RoadkiII
6703
Points
RoadkiII 03/02/12 - 11:52 am
1
0
Bad guy breaks in. Good guy

Bad guy breaks in. Good guy defends himself and his family. End of story. No more needed.

TParty
6003
Points
TParty 03/02/12 - 02:01 pm
1
1
I do not want this kid in any

I do not want this kid in any sort of trouble, or the family going through courts for months or years to justify their actions, but....

Was this guy shot in the back, outside the home of this family? Is that legal in Georgia?

RogueKnight
221
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RogueKnight 03/02/12 - 03:06 pm
0
0
NoHayManera, when you are

NoHayManera, when you are pierced by a .22 bullet, it tumbles and travels through the body and tears stuff up, just like a larger caliber bullet. If it hit an artery, death can happen fairly quickly.

MinAugusta
0
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MinAugusta 03/08/12 - 09:46 pm
0
0
I've Never written an

I've Never written an editorial nor comment about news issues ever before, but this time I feel the need to. So --- I too believe strongly that there is more to the 'story' about this tragic incident. I pray that the investigation by our good Law Enforcement will continue and that All of the True Facts be discovered and known by all ! I had met Justin Stephens a number of times ; he had been a student at Davidson Fine Arts School and then Westside. Justin was a mild-mannered, very polite, intelligent etc. young man. I don't know about the others involved at all. I'm thinking Justin made a poor decision about who he was with and what he was doing, But knowing of Justin and his character I Very much doubt that he went to that house to commit a burglary. Also, because it's reported that Justin was shot in the Back, Outside of the residence and was Unarmed makes me wonder even more about "what really happened".

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