Harnett County District Attorney Vernon Stewart said he will recommend that a grand jury indict a Harnett County Sheriff’s deputy on charges of second-degree murder in the shooting death of a man in the Anderson Creek community late last year.
A grand jury will now meet in special session Monday, April 11th to determine whether to indict Deputy Nicholas Kehagias on the murder charges. He was involved with a shooting and killing of John Livingston in an incident on Nov. 15 of last year.
Deputy Kehagias allegedly was attempting to execute a search warrant at Mr. Livingston’s home, which was the incorrect address, according to witnesses. The shooting occurred when Mr. Livingston refused to allow the search.
The sheriff’s office has said Mr. Livingston became assaultive which resulted in Deputy Kehagias shooting him three times. Mr. Livingston died on the front porch of his home.
Mr. Stewart said investigative reports from the SBI led to his recommendation of the murder charge.
“After review of all the reports in this matter and consultations within our office, I decided that this is what I need to do,” Mr. Stewart said. “That is all I can say on the case at this time.”
The grand jury will decide whether or not to issue a true bill of indictment in the case. If an indictment is issued, the case will proceed to Superior Court. A conviction on second-degree murder charges would result in significant prison time.
Mr. Stewart said it is possible the grand jury could return an indictment on the lesser charge of manslaughter. Or they could return a non-true bill — meaning no charge.
Mr. Stewart said multiple witnesses to the shooting will be subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury.
He would not release the names of witnesses who will be called in the case.
A group of protesters in support of the Livingston family have repeatedly picketed at the Harnett County Courthouse. That has included Mr. Livingston’s son.
One of those protesters was family friend, Regina Collins. She is pleased with the possibility of a murder charge.
“He definitely needs to be charged with murder because that is what he did,” Ms. Collins said. “I want to see him go to prison for a long time just like someone who is not a police officer would do. He murdered John and he needs to pay for it.”
She fears Deputy Kehagias will get special treatment because he works for the sheriff’s office.
“That is my fear, that this will get knocked down because he is a police officer,” Ms. Collins said.
Lillington attorney Jesse Jones represents the protest group and has promoted the marches on his Facebook page. Mr. Stewart said Mr. Jones was not present at Tuesday’s meeting. He has not indicated whether or not the family will pursue legal action against the sheriff’s office in the case.
As per department policy, Deputy Kehagias has been on paid administrative leave since the incident. Story courtesy The Daily Record