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Woman shot neighbor in self-defense

Originally ran here as:
Woman says she shot neighbor in self-defense
by Douglas Walker, Staff Writer
The Star
March 21, 2002

MUNCIE, INDIANA -- A Muncie woman told police she was acting in self-defense when she fired a gunshot that killed her neighbor. Authorities said Charlotte Venters, 29, shot 31-year-old Brian Ted Conrad about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday during a fight in her home at 91 River Drive in Burlington Mobile Home Park.

Conrad - who lived across the street from Venters and her boyfriend, Brent Billings - suffered a gunshot wound in the chest, police said. He collapsed outside, a few feet from the trailer's front door, and was dead by the time authorities arrived at the scene at 10:42 p.m.

Billings - who reportedly witnessed the shooting - and Venters were interviewed by police early Wednesday. Neither was arrested.

Muncie police Capt. Robert Weller said Wednesday that while more evidence could "take us in another direction," authorities were "working from the premise that no crime has been committed at this time."

Weller and police Sgt. Roc Barrett declined to say whether they believed Conrad had forced his way into the couple's mobile home, or whether he was armed at the time of the shooting.

Weller and Barrett acknowledged Conrad had quarreled with Venters and Billings outside their home earlier in the day, and they suggested Conrad went to their home late Tuesday to "continue" that conflict.

Deputy Prosecutor Jeffrey Arnold said he would not make a decision on what charges, if any, would be filed until he reviewed all evidence with investigators.

However, when asked about Venters's claim of self-defense, Arnold said, "The evidence would support that at this time."

Tuesday night's shooting came 39 hours after the body of another shooting victim, 26-year-old Bradley Swabb of Muncie, was found in a southside alley. Police - who made two arrests in that case early Tuesday - said Swabb had been slain in a mobile home park along Kilgore Avenue.

Weller said this week's homicides had taken their toll on his department's three evidence technicians - Rodney Frazier, Eric Henry and Jeff Leist.

The technicians worked on the Swabb investigation from 7:30 a.m. Monday until 3 a.m. Tuesday; attended that victim's autopsy in Decatur at 8:30 a.m., and were continuing to process the scene of Swabb's shooting when they received word at 11 p.m. Tuesday of the second shooting. They then collected evidence at the scene of Conrad's death until at least 4 a.m. Wednesday, Weller said.

"They are just beyond tired," he said.

Contact Douglas Walker at 213-5851.

Victim had history of arrests, violence

Originally ran here as:
"Victim had history of arrests, violence"
by Douglas Walker, Staff Writer
The Star
March 21, 2002

MUNCIE, INDIANA -- A Muncie man who was fatally shot by his neighbor had a history of arrests - and acts of violence. Brian Ted Conrad - who police said was shot to death late Tuesday after he confronted a couple in their trailer in Burlington Mobile Home Park - had been arrested at least 17 times over the past 11 years, according to records at the Delaware County jail.

Many of Conrad's arrests stemmed from allegations of drunken driving and public intoxication. Others involved alleged acts of violence directed at women and, in one instance, a 12-year-old boy.

Conrad, 31, was most recently arrested last July 5 after he struck a woman, described in police reports as his girlfriend, in the face as she held her 1-year-old child.

A day after Conrad's arrest, the 25-year-old victim unsuccessfully tried to persuade authorities to dismiss any charges stemming from the incident. (The Star Press generally does not identify victims of domestic violence.)

"I believe since Mr. Conrad was intoxicated, it was not purposely done," the woman wrote. "Mr. Conrad is a very nice and gentle person. When he struck me, it was the alcohol, not Mr. Conrad."

On Oct. 29, Conrad pleaded guilty to misdemeanor counts of battery, disorderly conduct and public intoxication. Ross Rowland, a judge pro tem in Muncie City Court, imposed a 1-year suspended sentence and ordered Conrad to seek counseling for anger control.

At the time of his death, charges stemming from a November 2000 drunken driving arrest were still pending against Conrad. It was the latest in a series of alcohol-related arrests - including several for driving while intoxicated - that began in the late 1980s.

According to court records, Conrad also:

  • Was convicted of battery in 1998 after he was accused of shoving his ex-girlfriend into a wall. He received a 6-month suspended sentence.
  • Was arrested in 1995 after he was accused of punching a 12-year-old boy in the eye after the youth - who did not know Conrad - asked the Muncie man whether he was intoxicated. A resulting battery charge was dismissed as part of a plea agreement.
  • Was convicted of criminal conversion in 1995 after he was accused of stealing two rifles and a silverware set from an acquaintance's trailer in Burlington Mobile Home Park. He received a 1-year suspended sentence.

Contact Douglas Walker at 213-5851.

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A militia, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves...and include all men capable of bearing arms. Richard Henry Lee, Additional Letters from the Federal Framer (1788) at p. 169

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