Suspect claiming self defense in 2017 shooting death of man on Grant Rd. in Columbus

Suspect claiming self defense in 2017 shooting death of man on Grant Rd. in Columbus

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The suspect charged with the 2017 murder of a man at house party in Columbus is claiming self-defense.

Eddie Clayton is charged with the murder of Ronnie Lockhart who was shot and killed on Grant Road.

Defense attorneys said Clayton was throwing a birthday party for the victim’s brother-in-law when things started to spiral out of control.

“Its supposed to be family," said Lockhart’s wife. "We were invited over there for a barbecue. I didn’t anticipate loosing my husband.”

Witnesses said Clayton and Lockhart had already been arguing that summer day in July.

Both left the party together along with two other people to buy cigarettes at a gas station.

Clayton reportedly saw Lockhart hand a woman a cigarette who appeared to be in a lesbian relationship.

And that’s when Clayton got mad, telling Lockhart something like, ‘why are you wasting your time--she doesn’t like your type.’

From there, things escalated and when the two men got back to the party at Clayton’s house, Clayton wanted Lockhart to leave but Lockhart refused.

“I feel completely justifiable that the shooting was done to protect his home and done to the person and to protect his family,”said William Kendrick, defense attorney.

Attorneys said Clayton got his gun and shotLockhart in the leg. They continued to fight, and three more shots rang out.

A medical examiner testified Wednesday about the bullet wounds on Lockhart’s body. Kendrick said this helps prove Clayton’s self defense.

“There was testimony that after that warning shot, there were some other wounds, but those wounds were given or dealt with from a closer range than the first wound, so that shows that possibly that the deceased after shot in the leg, came towards my client to continue to attack him,” said Kendrick.

An eyewitness also took the stand. The victim’s wife testified she saw her and her brother charging at Clayton before more shots rang out.

Her brother Mario McKinely is the only person who witnessed everything was not in court to testify. His sister said he skipped town.

Court will not be in session Thursday due to witnesses not being available. The trial will resume Friday morning at 9 a.m. in Judge William Rumer’s courtroom.

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