Bryan Shelton Dennington, 34, had been charged with felony murder, aggravated assault, aggravated battery and voluntary manslaughter in the death of 28-year-old William Wesley Vaughn Jr.
The stabbing occurred in a vehicle during an argument about a cell phone.
Vaughn died in the parking lot of a Kangaroo convenience store despite a retired paramedic’s efforts to save him.
The grand jury returned a “no bill” in the case on Thursday. District Attorney Kermit McManus said Dennington would be released from the county jail, where he has been held since the stabbing because he could not raise a $50,000 bond.
Dennington’s grandmother, Joyce Williams, called the grand jury’s decision “an answer to prayer.”
“I believe it was self-defense, not because I’m his grandmother but because of the condition he was in,” she said on Friday.
Photos of Dennington showed a blackened left eye and swelling on that side of his face, as well as marks on the back of his head. Dennington was sitting in the passenger side front seat of a two-door Ford Explorer, and Vaughn was sitting in the back seat on the passenger side when the fight started, according to court testimony.
McManus said his office, the sheriff’s office and Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent Dan Sims presented “all the evidence we had” — including interviews with witnesses, crime scene investigation and the autopsy report from the state medical examiner’s office.
“The evidence pointed more toward the injuries being inflicted on Wes Vaughn by Bryan Dennington in the sense of (Dennington) defending himself at the time that he stabbed Vaughn,” he said.
McManus said the fatal stab was consistent with Vaughn moving into the knife blade in the mode of an “aggressor” rather than sustaining defensive wounds by trying to fend off the knife.
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