Prosecutors agreed with a defense attorney's contention that an Augusta man killed another man in self-defense, and they dropped criminal charges.
Chad Pearson, 26, initially was charged with murder in the Jan. 22, 2001, shooting death of 45-year-old Larry Davis. When he was indicted, that charge was reduced to voluntary manslaughter.
Mr. Pearson admitted he shot Mr. Davis after Mr. Davis advanced on him with a 2-foot-long pipe in Mr. Pearson's front yard on Oakland Avenue.
Defense attorney Pete Theodocion said Mr. Davis' family had had him involuntarily committed to Georgia Regional Hospital several times because of aggressive behavior.
"There was incident after incident of (Mr. Davis) attacking people," Mr. Theodocion said. "The state doesn't have a place for these people; that's a problem. The tragedy is that the state should have kept him. I know his poor family members were at their wits' end."
Assistant District Attorney Scott Connell, who determined that the charges against Mr. Pearson should be dropped after consulting with District Attorney Danny Craig and other prosecutors, noted in the prosecution file that Mr. Davis had the pipe raised over his head when Mr. Pearson shot him.
Mr. Pearson, the prosecutor wrote, gave Mr. Davis every chance to stop.
"In fact, Pearson allowed the victim to get within two arm-lengths of him before shooting," Mr. Connell wrote.
Mr. Davis died from a gunshot wound in his chest.
Mr. Davis' family told Mr. Connell that they exaggerated Mr. Davis' violent behavior when they signed papers to have him involuntarily committed to the mental hospital, the prosecutor noted. The defense attorney was prepared to introduce the documents to show Mr. Davis' previous aggressive behavior if Mr. Pearson stood trial.
Mr. Davis was committed eight times - November 1981, April 1984, May 1984, September 1997, October 1997, May 1999, September 2000 and November 2000 - after his family members said he became violent and abusive.
Mr. Davis suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, diagnosed in 1975 after Mr. Davis set his family's home on fire by pouring gasoline over the furniture and lighting it, according to medical records.
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