Johnson City Press Wednesday, October 1, 2014

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'He had a pistol directly between my eyes. ... I was terrified'

April 25th, 2014 5:07 pm by Brad Hicks

'He had a pistol directly between my eyes. ... I was terrified'

Keenan Shepard

ERWIN — Unicoi resident Brenda Hoilman testified that within minutes of returning home from visiting a neighbor on the afternoon of March 26, she heard a knock on her door.

Hoilman said when she opened the door of her Sugar Hollow Road residence, she was greeted by a man, whom she identified in court as Keenan Shepard, asking her for a ride.

“I looked around. There was no vehicle,” she said. “I said ‘I’m sorry. I cannot help you,’ and when I turned to look back at him, he had a pistol directly between my eyes. ... I was terrified.”

Hoilman, as well as Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Frank Rogers, testified at Shepard’s preliminary hearing in Thursday Unicoi County Sessions Court. At the end of the hearing, Judge David Shults determined there was probable cause for Shepard to be charged and bound his case over to a grand jury.

Shepard, 22, 231 Lynwood Street, Bristol, was arrested March 26 and charged with vandalism, possession of a schedule VI drug for resale, aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during the act of a felony, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and attempted auto theft over $1,000.

At Thursday’s hearing, Assistant District Attorney General Ryan Curtis motioned that the charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon be dismissed. Curtis said the U.S. Attorney’s Office may review Shepard’s case.

Hoilman further testified that once Shepard pointed the gun at her, she slammed her door, locked it and told her boyfriend to contact 911. Hoilman said her boyfriend was on the phone with authorities as he watched Shepard attempt to steal a neighbor’s truck. Hoilman said when this attempt proved unsuccessful, Shepard traveled down the hill away from her home and out of sight.

Rogers testified that:

n After receiving the call from Shepherd’s boyfriend, officers responded to the Sugar Hollow Road area. As officers were conducting door-to-door searches for Shepard, officials received another call, this time from a resident living on Unicoi Drive who reported a man matching Shepard’s description on her back porch. Officers responded and found Shepard in a vehicle behind the caller’s home.

n Officers approached the vehicle with weapons deployed and Shepard was taken into custody without incident. Officials found a loaded handgun and a bag containing several pounds of marijuana in Shepard’s possession. After Shepard was arrested, he kicked the window out of a sheriff’s department cruiser.

Hoilman told Shults that after Shepard was taken into custody, she was asked by law enforcement officials if she could identify him as the man who showed up at her door.

“I said ‘Yes, sir, that is the man who stuck the gun between my eyes,’ ” she said.

Shepard opted to represent himself at his preliminary hearing. He chose not to testify or ask questions of those who did, but he made a statement to Hoilman following her testimony.

“Just ... I’m sorry,” he said.

Shepard has been held in the Unicoi County Jail without bond since his arrest, but $150,000 bond was set at Thursday’s hearing.

The grand jury is next scheduled to meet May 21.

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