November 6th, 2009 08:28 AM
Prosecutor: Cherokee County shooting was self-defense
MURPHY — Prosecutors say a Georgia man was defending himself and his wife when he shot and killed a 24-year-old Cherokee County man on his property.
District Attorney Michael Bonfoey won't charge James Reeves McKinley, who lives near Atlanta and has a second home in Cherokee County.
Investigators believe McKinley shot Gregory Abernathy twice with an assault rifle after Abernathy tried to take the rifle from him and hit him in the head with his motorcycle helmet.
The confrontation started at 11:12 p.m. Oct. 24 when Abernathy and a friend rode an all-terrain vehicle under the locked gate on McKinley's private road in the Boiling Springs area.
Prosecutors in a statement Wednesday said McKinley fired shots in the air from his porch while his wife, Carolyn McKinley, called 911 to report trespassing.
The road and property were marked with “no trespassing” signs. The house is half a mile from Boiling Springs Road.
Abernathy and his passenger stopped the ATV after McKinley fired the shots. They continued and drove up the McKinleys' driveway, where they found James McKinley standing with his rife, authorities said.
McKinley backed away toward his house, according to prosecutors who said in the statement they reviewed the case with Cherokee County sheriff's investigators.
Abernathy stopped the ATV and jumped off, according to the statement.
He yelled at McKinley and walked toward him.
The McKinleys told Abernathy and his passenger to leave and warned them that they were on private property, authorities said.
Abernathy pushed McKinley and grabbed the barrel of his rifle in an attempt to take it from him. Abernathy hit McKinley in the head with his helmet during the struggle.
Abernathy lost his grip on the rifle, and McKinley shot him twice in his left side, prosecutors said.
Abernathy died in the driveway.
“If a person is not the aggressor and he is in his own home or on his own premises, he may stand his ground and repel force with force regardless of the character of the assault being made upon him,” according to the statement from the prosecutor's office.
“In this case the evidence is that James McKinley was defending his home, defending his wife and defending himself,” the statement read. “In such a situation criminal charges are not sustainable.”
The shooting sparked retaliation from the dead man's friends, Sheriff Keith Lovin has said.
James Douglas Millsaps, 46, of Walnut Cove Road, is charged with arson, accused of setting a fire that burned McKinley's home four days after he shot Abernathy.
Millsaps also is charged with conspiracy to commit murder, along with 17-year-old Dallas Dwayne Carringer, in connection with the fire.
McKinley and his wife, who are both retired and in their mid-50s, were not at home when the fire was set.
Abernathy worked as a carpenter, according to his obituary.
He was a native of Cherokee County and the son of Irene Abernathy, of Murphy.
November 6th, 2009 09:33 AM
Gosh--just how stupid can you get--you knowingly trespass onto somebody else's property--confront them after they've fired warning shots and then get blown away?????
Scott, US Army 1974-2004
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- Ronald Reagan
November 6th, 2009 09:52 AM
"First gallant South Carolina nobly made the stand."
Edge of Darkness
November 6th, 2009 10:40 AM
Terrible for the McKinleys but great for Georgia residents. And seriously, just how stupid could Abernathy have been? I am glad to know they are throwing the book at the arsonists. I hope the McKinleys were insured.
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November 6th, 2009 10:51 AM
Originally Posted by Scott Davies
Very sad for Mr. McKinley.
Now forever his mind and his property are tainted because a jerk could not see fit to restrain himself, and quite simply act right.
He and his friend.
"Killers who are not deterred by laws against murder are not going to be deterred by laws against guns. " - Robert A. Levy
"A license to carry a concealed weapon does not make you a free-lance policeman." - Florida Div. of Licensing
November 6th, 2009 11:40 AM
This was a bit confusing. Cherokee County is in North Carolina. This was the McKinley's vacation home.
Originally Posted by Biomortis
November 6th, 2009 03:30 PM
Hasn't any one thought about the fact that the ATV riders were not a threat
Hasn't any one thought about the fact that the ATV riders were not a threat to the home owners when the first shots were fired. Isn't this a case where deadly force would not be justified up to that point. Granted he said he shoot into the air, not at the riders. Still I am not sure he should even have done that.
I can agree that he has the right to run them off his land, but firing a gun at them might have been a little over the top.
Obviously the rider had a bad temper, and was upset about th shots, but he sure as heck should not have attacked the home owner.
November 6th, 2009 04:42 PM
Sounds like the guy had stupid friends too... who may spending their life in prison.
November 6th, 2009 07:22 PM
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November 6th, 2009 07:48 PM
Well, at least three idiots are off of the streets, the dead guy and his two firebug friends.
I don't see anything wrong with the guy shooting in the air to get the trespassers attention. They shouldn't have been there anyway , they had no right and no business. Jujdging by the dead guys actions and associates, it's no great loss to the world.
November 7th, 2009 12:42 AM
Originally Posted by TedBeau
There is no way that the homeowner could know if the ATV riders were a threat or not. They were warned, warning shots were fired, and the homeowner did not shoot him until AFTER he was attacked with force by a much younger man. I would say that he is totally blameless and cannot see any fault in what he did.
Oh yeah, gotta love friends who attack the innocent, knowing that their friend was in the wrong when he was killed. I have never been a fan of siding with somebody just because they are a friend or family. If they are in the wrong, I'd be the first to tell them as I'd expect them to do for me.
I am the Walrus...Goo Goo Goo Joob
“Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.” –Benjamin Franklin
November 7th, 2009 02:16 AM
Good outcome!! Thats 1 more in the law books for us.
And to confront someone who has a firearm is just plain stupid!!!
November 7th, 2009 03:36 AM
This Cherokee county is north of Atlanta. I use to live there.
Originally Posted by SigDaddy
Wisdom of the Older Gunner:
To carry a firearm and not have to use it is a blessing
To not carry a firearm and need one is avoidable and sometimes fatal stupidity
November 7th, 2009 05:15 AM
If the idiots on the atv turned around after the warning shots and reported it to authorities. We might be hearing about a whacko in the woods firing an "assault" rifle near anybody approach his property.
"I didn't do it, nobody saw me do it, you can't prove anything!" Bart Simpson
November 7th, 2009 09:38 AM
I'd guess that he knew that shouts couldn't be heard above the noise of the ATV's. How utterly stupid of them to challange him.
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