Murder suspect appears in Catawba Co. court, family claims it was self defense

CATAWBA CO., NC (WBTV) - Tony Brittain had his first appearance in court in Catawba County Monday morning since being charged in the fatal shooting of a man Saturday night.

Authorities believe Brittain killed Kevin Hefner after Hefner opened the front door to his home.

Captain Jason Reid says evidence shows that Brittain went to Hefner's home with a shotgun to collect a drug debt. The suspect's family though says it was about something else.

Cindy Brittain says her daughter was robbed of $500 earlier in the day. She says her husband went to Hefner's home to ask him about that, and to try to get the money back.

She claims when Hefner opened the door he also opened fire on her husband and daughter.

"And he just fired back and apparently killed him."

A neighbor, who did not want to be identified, said he heard several shots ring out at various times Saturday afternoon and early evening but could not say if it was from the time that Hefner was killed.

He says it was not unusual to hear gunshots from that property.

Witnesses say investigators did recover a weapon at the home and found shell casings at the scene. Authorities would not confirm that but did say the investigation is not over.

"We are still collecting evidence and interviewing people," said Catawba County Sheriff's Captain Jason Reid.

Brittain remains charged with murder. He told the judge he would hire his own attorney.

Judge Robert Mullinax advised him of the charge he faces and that the maximum possible punishment could be death.

Brittain remains behind bars without bond.

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