Houchin

Houchin

A Leitchfield man has been found guilty of reckless homicide after fatally shooting his daughter's boyfriend in 2017.

47-year-old Billy Joe Houchin was found guilty on the evening of March 14 at the conclusion of a two-day trial in Grayson Circuit Court of recklessly killing Stephen Waninger, an Evansville, Indiana man who was 31 years old at the time of his death, following a domestic altercation between the two on Dec. 29, 2017.

In case of a guilty verdict, the jury was given the option of convicting Houchin of second-degree manslaughter or reckless homicide.

Court documents indicate that a conviction of manslaughter would mean Houchin had shot Waninger deliberately and it resulted in his death; while the reckless homicide conviction means he acted with recklessness that resulted in Waninger's death. Neither charge implies that Houchin killed Waninger purposefully.

At approximately 1 a.m. on Dec. 29, 2017, the Kentucky State Police and Grayson County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene of a domestic disturbance and shooting that occurred at 4334 Grayson Springs Rd.

Leading up to the incident, Waninger had been living with his girlfriend, Houchin's daughter, in Houchin's residence on Grayson Springs Road, and, when the two became involved in a domestic altercation, Houchin attempted to intervene.

Police said Waninger and Houchin then got involved in a serious physical altercation, and, after a lengthy struggle between the two, Houchin fatally shot Waninger.

Waninger was later pronounced deceased at the residence by the Grayson County Coroner’s Office.

The jury recommended Houchin's punishment be five years in jail (not less than one year nor more than five years); however, because he has already served more than one year in jail, he is expected to be released after his sentencing, which is set for Tuesday, April 16 at 11 a.m., according to Grayson County Circuit Court Clerk Stacie Blain.

Houchin was first taken into custody following his indictment last March for second-degree manslaughter, and, earlier this year, he filed a motion with Grayson Circuit Court to have the indictment dismissed. But, given the evidence presented to the court, Circuit Court Judge Bruce Butler overruled the motion on March 8.

The case was prosecuted by First Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney for the 46th Circuit Robert L. Schaefer. Houchin was represented by Louisville, Kentucky attorney Ashley L. Michael.

Schaefer said his office is satisfied with the jury's verdict in the case, but, even though it provides some justice for Waninger's death that the jury said what Houchin did was "absolutely wrong," it will not fill the hole left in the lives of Waninger's loved ones.

"Mr. Waninger lost his life, and he shouldn't have," Schaefer said.

Schaefer also commended the jury for taking the case seriously and listening to the evidence presented to them.

Michael had not returned a request for comment at press time.