A local grand jury declined Wednesday to indict Henry Goedrich Magee for the Dec. 19 death of Burleson County Sgt. Adam Sowders, who was part of a group of investigators executing a search warrant for Magee's rural home.
Sowders and other officers entered the home about 90 miles northwest of Houston without knocking just before 6 a.m. Authorities were looking for guns and marijuana.
Magee's attorney, Dick DeGuerin, said his client thought he was being burglarized, reached for a gun and opened fire.
DeGuerin has acknowledged his client had a small number of marijuana plants and seedlings, as well as guns he owned legally. The grand jury did indict Magee for possession of marijuana while in possession of a deadly weapon, a third-degree felony.
"This was a terrible tragedy that a deputy sheriff was killed, but Hank Magee believed that he and his pregnant girlfriend were being robbed," DeGuerin said in an interview Thursday.
"He did what a lot of people would have done," DeGuerin added. "He defended himself and his girlfriend and his home."
The longtime defense attorney said he could not immediately remember another example of a Texas grand jury declining to indict a defendant in the death of a law enforcement officer.
Julie Renken, the district attorney for Burleson County, said in a statement Thursday she thought the sheriff's office acted correctly during events that "occurred in a matter of seconds amongst chaos."
"I believe the evidence also shows that an announcement was made," Renken said. "However, there is not enough evidence that Mr. Magee knew that day that Peace Officers were entering his home."
Magee is still in custody in neighboring Washington County, but should be soon released on bond since he only faces a marijuana possession charge, DeGuerin said.
Renken said her office would "fully prosecute" that case.
The 31-year-old Sowders was a native of Somerville who had recently been promoted to a sergeant-investigator position.
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