MUNCIE, INDIANA -- A Muncie woman who shot and killed her neighbor won't face criminal charges, Delaware County Prosecutor Richard Reed said Monday.
Authorities said Charlotte Venters, 29, shot 31-year-old Brian Ted Conrad on March 19 in her trailer at Burlington Mobile Home Park.
"A thorough investigation by the police, including eyewitness statements, leaves no doubt that [Conrad] was an armed home-invader when killed," Reed said.
According to Reed, Conrad - who lived across the street from Venters and her boyfriend, Brent Billings - entered the couple's mobile home after kicking open the front door. Conrad then approached Billings, who was seated in a chair, and held a steak knife to his neighbor's throat, saying he intended to kill him, Reed said.
Venters emerged from another room holding a handgun and warned Conrad not to harm Billings, then fired a warning shot, Reed said.
According to the prosecutor, Conrad, still armed with the knife, pointed his weapon at Venters and "made threatening comments to her."
Venters then shot Conrad in the chest.
"He staggered outside, where he fell on the property, and that was that," Reed said. "Under Indiana law, this constitutes self-defense and justifies the use of deadly force. Criminal charges are not warranted and will not be filed."
The prosecutor said someone at the scene apparently threw Conrad's knife into a nearby fishing boat. The possible attempt to hide evidence remains "under investigation," he said.
Reed said Venters and Billings were "separated [by police] immediately and gave identical statements, simultaneously."
Deputy Prosecutor Jeffery Arnold also said marks on Billings's throat were consistent with having been assaulted with a knife.
The results of toxicology tests conducted during Conrad's autopsy are not yet available, County Coroner James Clevenger Jr. said Monday.
The night of his death, relatives of Conrad told The Star Press they believed the shooting victim had been intoxicated that evening.
"The majority of crimes are committed by people who are intoxicated," Arnold said Monday.
Conrad had been arrested at least 17 times over the past 11 years, on charges ranging from drunken driving to battery.
Tabatha Smith Conrad - who was married to the shooting victim for nearly 2 years - wrote in a letter to The Star Press last month that Conrad's arrest record wasn't reflective of his character.
"Brian was not a bad man," she wrote. "He was a good, kindhearted man who would help you out in a time of need."
Contact Douglas Walker at 213-5851.
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