Easley shooting ruled justifiable homicide

EASLEY — A shooting that claimed a man’s life last month has been ruled a justifiable homicide by the 13th Circuit Solicitor’s Office.

The Pickens County Sheriff’s Office announced last week it was officially notified by the solicitor’s office that a complete review of the facts surrounding the use of lethal force by an Easley homeowner was conducted.

Chief deputy Creed Hashe said evidence at the scene corroborated Jeremy Sterling’s version of the events that occurred the morning of Dec. 14 and resulted in the death of 27-year-old Justin Michael Smith, of 29 Cooperfield Ave. in Piedmont.

According to Hashe, Sterling told police he found a man inside his home on Prince Perry Road after returning from work shortly after 8 a.m. The homeowner told police the intruder appeared to have forced entry through a rear door and was in possession of the homeowner’s property, including several guns.

Hashe said the man charged the homeowner when confronted, and during a brief struggle, the homeowner was able to gain control of one of the guns and fire several shots at the intruder, who fell onto a back deck while trying to leave the home.

When deputies arrived at the scene less than two minutes later, they found Smith inside the home with multiple gunshot wounds, Hashe said.

Hashe said crime scene technicians found and recovered evidence indicating that the back door of the home had been kicked in and that numerous areas within the home had been searched and rummaged through prior to the shooting. Evidence was also collected that corroborated statements by the homeowner that the rounds were discharged while both men were inside.

During the course of the investigation, the sheriff’s office also discovered unrelated stolen property that linked Smith to a break-in previously reported by the Easley Police Department.

Detectives from the sheriff’s office later presented the solicitor’s office with the evidence.

After being advised by the solicitor’s office that the homeowner has statutory immunity from prosecution under the Protection of Persons and Property Act, “as set forth in the S.C. statutory and case law,” Hashe said no criminal charges would be filed.