DAWSONVILLE — Court is in recess until Monday morning in the trial of a Dawson County man accused of fatally shooting a local father of three and youth recreation coach.
Northeastern Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Jason Deal instructed jurors to return to the Dawson County Government Center at 9 a.m.
The jury had been deliberating for nearly five hours when it sent a note to the judge asking for the recess.
The jurors also asked if they could find the defendant, Herman James "Bo" Seppenfield VII, guilty on some of the charges and not guilty on others. Deal notified them that they could.
Seppenfield is charged with felony murder, malice murder, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony.
He is the admitted triggerman in the 2014 shooting of 37-year-old Brandon Weaver, also of Dawson County and a 1995 graduate of South Forsyth High School.
After a short deliberation, the jurors informed Deal they were closer to a verdict and would be ready to resume deliberations Monday.
The state and defense rested their cases late Thursday, following three days of testimony in which jurors heard similar but contrasting memories of what happened the night of Nov. 22, 2014, at 72 Whitney Place in southeastern Dawson.
Witnesses included deputies and emergency personnel who were first on the scene of the shooting, as well as 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.
The charges stem from an incident in which Seppenfield was awakened from sleep to find a man, later identified as Marty Buice, at his door, 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.
The boy, who testified on Tuesday that he felt uncomfortable about adults at the party drinking and smoking cigars, along with two friends reportedly left the party without notifying any adults.
He called home to tell his mom as the trio 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 played host to 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.
Seppenfield says the shooting was in self-defense.
"I pointed the gun at him and said, ‘Stop, the police are on the way,'" he 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 has been 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.
During a calendar call last month, it was confirmed that Miguez's case would not be heard until Seppenfield's trial was complete.
Last September, Northeastern Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Jason Deal granted a motion filed on behalf of Seppenfield to sever his proceedings from those of Miguez.
During his opening statement to the jury on Tuesday, defense attorney Richard Stepp said no crime has been committed.
"It's a tragedy, no question. The question you have to ask, the question you have to answer … was Bo justified in the law," he said.
The state says he was not.
"This is about an unarmed victim who was begging for the life of his best friend, of his brother-in-law," said Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Geller.