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Dawson County man acquitted in murder case with Forsyth ties

DAWSONVILLE — A Dawson County man charged in the 2014 deadly shooting of a popular youth recreation coach has been acquitted of all charges.

Herman James "Bo" Seppenfield VII, 51, was expected to be home with his family within hours following the not guilty verdict. He had been at the Dawson County Jail since his arrest in December 2014.

"We are relieved and overjoyed," said his Attorney Richard Stepp. "We believe the verdict of the jury speaks to truth."

A Dawson County jury reached the verdict late Monday afternoon following nearly two days of deliberations.

Seppenfield, who took the stand in his own defense last week, admitted that he shot 37-year-old Brandon Weaver on the night of Nov. 22, 2014, but claimed it was in self-defense.

He was on trial for felony murder, malice murder, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

Weaver was a father of three and 1995 South Forsyth High School graduate.

The state and defense rested their cases late Thursday, following three full days of testimony in which jurors heard similar — but contrasting — accounts of what happened at 72 Whitney Place in southeastern Dawson County.

Witnesses included deputies and emergency personnel who were first on the scene of the shooting and crime scene and homicide experts.

They also included Seppenfield's adult daughter, who was at home at the time and called 911 to the house they shared, and Marty Buice, Weaver's brother-in-law.

The charges stemmed from an incident in which Seppenfield was awakened from sleep to find Buice at his door.

Buice was demanding to know what had gone on at child's birthday party held there earlier that day that caused his nephew, Weaver's son, to leave the home on foot.

Testifying for the state, the boy, now 13, said he felt uncomfortable about adults at the party drinking and smoking cigars, which led to him and two friends leaving the party without notifying any adults.

He called home to tell his mom as the three walked toward his house off Dawson Forest Road.

Weaver's wife, Heather, then drove Buice and her husband to pick up the three boys.

Witness testimony shows they also made a stop back at the party, letting Seppenfield and his girlfriend Elisa Chameli, who were the hosts of the party for her twin daughters, know the three boys had left on their own.

It was hours later that Buice and Weaver returned to the home, where a verbal altercation led to a fight and gunfire.

"I pointed the gun at him and said, ‘Stop, the police are on the way,'" Seppenfield said, referring to Weaver. "At that point, I felt like it was him or me. And my family was on the other side of that door."

Also arrested in connection with the fight was 25-year-old Tory Jude Miguez, 25, who was charged with aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during a felony crime.

He also lived at the Whitney Place residence and was home when Buice and Weaver, who were unarmed, showed up.

Miguez remained at the courthouse throughout the trial but did not testify in the case against Seppenfield.

The date of his trial was not immediately available.