Catawba Co man indicted for first degree murder after man shot through window

23-year-old Jeffrey Brittain (Steve Ohnesorge | WBTV)
23-year-old Jeffrey Brittain (Steve Ohnesorge | WBTV)

CATAWBA COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - The day after he was arrested on a warrant for murder, the man accused of killing a 19-year-old by shooting through a living room window now faces an indictment for first-degree murder.

The Catawba County Grand Jury returned the True Bill against 23-year-old Jeffrey Brittain Monday afternoon.

"We believe the evidence is strong," said Lt. Aaron Turk.

Authorities believe the suspect and the victim, Justin Smith, did not know each other. The connection, they believe, is a 17-year-old girl that both men knew.

Authorities are still investigating but told WBTV it appears the victim and the suspect had both dated the girl at some point. Beyond that, investigators said they are still collecting evidence and would not go into more detail.

It appears that Smith was sitting in a recliner when a shotgun blast, fired from outside through a living room window, killed him Thursday night. The body was discovered Friday afternoon.

Despite intense searches in and around the home, the murder weapon still has not been found. Investigators were seen Monday searching the thick weeds and wooded areas, but without luck.

Brittain, meanwhile, went before a judge Monday morning for a first appearance based on the original murder warrant. The judge advised him he could face a maximum penalty of death if convicted. He was told he would be given a court-appointed attorney who is qualified to handle death penalty cases and a probable cause hearing was set in district court.

The indictment will supersede the warrant and all matters now will be in superior court. No date for arraignment has been set.

Copyright 2017 WBTV. All rights reserved.