By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium
ST. JOSEPH — A Benton Harbor man charged with killing a teenager said he was only “protecting his family.”
Terrance Shelby Jr, 29, accused of shooting and killing Grady Manns on May 12, told police he had flushed out the 18-year-old after finding him hiding behind the couch in Shelby’s house at 154 E. Empire Ave., Detective Michael Harmon of the Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety testified in a hearing Tuesday. He was apparently visiting Shelby’s 13-year-old stepdaughter.
Harmon testified Shelby later told police he feared a robbery.
A school bus driver discovered Manns’ body about a block from Shelby’s house and three blocks from Benton Harbor High School, where Manns was a junior.
The hearing to determine if there’s enough evidence to justify trial will continue July 26. Judge Arthur Cotter suspended the hearing after a witness proved unavailable.
Shelby is being held in Berrien County jail on an open murder charge.
Berrien Chief Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Smith brought two witnesses to the stand, but could not continue because a third witness was out of the state.
“We just found out the mother sent the daughter out of state to live with a relative, which (Child Protective Services) was unaware of,” Smith told Cotter. “I feel that’s good cause for a continuation to get her testimony.”
Harmon testified Shelby had gone to bed for the night when he heard his stepdaughter walking up and down the stairs. The noise prompted him several times to check on what she was doing.
Harmon said Shelby eventually found Manns hiding behind the couch and chased him out of the house. Harmon said he spoke to Shelby over the course of three interviews.
In the first, Shelby told police he chased “a dude” out of his house that was downstairs with the girl. During the altercation, she also ran out of the house.
Harmon said Shelby’s wife, Latasha, came downstairs and asked what happened before going out to look for her daughter.
“He told Latasha that (her daughter) had a dude in the house,” Harmon said.
For his third interview that day, Harmon said Shelby waved his rights and told Harmon – along with another officer present – that he was not a murderer and was “just protecting his family.”
Shelby told police he saw someone standing outside the house after Manns fled the residence. The person allegedly jumped the fence and walked around to the back trying to get into a window.
“(Shelby) said he had this overwhelming feeling that he was about to be robbed,” Harmon said. “He stated that the subject tried to get into the window, but it was locked. He stated that as the subject was running away, he fired a warning shot. But he gestured (shooting) the gun straight at him.”
Harmon said Shelby used a gun to fire one warning shot at the fleeing individual. An autopsy determined Manns died of a single gunshot wound to the chest.
Shelby told police the gun he used was either a .32- or a .38-caliber revolver, Harmon testified. Police never found the gun. Shelby told Harmon he panicked and threw the gun into an abandoned field close to his house.
Lanny Fisher, Shelby’s lawyer, cross examined Harmon about the location of the blood. The trail began more than 100 feet from the fence.
An open murder charge permits a finding of first or second-degree murder. Both carry a maximum penalty of life in prison. Shelby is further charged with felony firearm, which carries a mandatory two-year consecutive sentence.