ATLANTA — A man who fatally shot an Alzheimer’s patient, who had wandered from his home, in the early morning hours in north Georgia will not face criminal charges, a local prosecutor said Friday.
Joe Hendrix, 35, fatally shot Ronald Westbrook, 72, on Nov. 27. The older man had slipped from his home as early as 1 a.m. and wandered in the cold and dark for hours until randomly approaching the home of Hendrix’s fiancee on a rural cul-de-sac, knocking on the door and ringing the bell.
Hendrix’s fiancee called 911, while Hendrix grabbed his .40-caliber handgun, went outside, and confronted the unknown man in the dark. Hendrix told police that he could see that the man was carrying a cylindrical object, which turned out to be a flashlight. The man ignored shouts to stop and came at Hendrix, he later told police. Hendrix fired three or four times, hitting Westbrook in the chest.
District Attorney Herbert Franklin said he could press charges only if investigators could prove that Hendrix was not acting in self-defense when he pulled the trigger.
Hendrix’s attorney, Lee Davis, said, ‘‘Mr. Hendrix fully acknowledges the loss to Westbrook family, and his thoughts and prayers are with them.’’
The outcome brought no solace to Westbrook’s family.
‘‘I’m a little upset,’’ said Deanne Westbrook, the slain man’s widow. ‘‘I really wanted to see it go before a grand jury, and then maybe before a jury. But they tell me there’s not enough evidence for that.’’