BELTON — August Sanders — jailed for more than two months on a murder charge — walked out of the Bell County Jail as a free man Thursday afternoon after grand jurors believed his claim of self-defense that was supported by new evidence.
Sanders, a Temple resident, was no-billed Wednesday on the murder charge filed by Temple police in the July 17 slaying of 48-year-old Dewayne Hambrick.
“I’m blessed,” Sanders told the Telegram Thursday outside the jail. “I do feel remorse for the (Hambrick) family and I do apologize to the family.”
New evidence in the case affected the first-degree felony charge against Sanders, the Bell County District Attorney’s Office said Thursday.
“The case against August Sanders was presented to the grand jury yesterday for the charge of murder. While the proceedings of the grand jury are confidential, the facts developed after the initial charge corroborated the defendant’s initial claim of self-defense,” Stephanie Newell, first assistant district attorney, said in a statement. “The complete investigation was presented to the Bell County grand jury and after deliberations they issued a no bill for the charge of murder.”
Sanders said blood evidence tied to the jacket he was wearing at the time of shooting helped support his claim of self-defense. Sanders, wearing a black T-shirt and khaki shorts, declined to elaborate as he held a plastic bag full of his belongings while waiting for a ride outside the jail.
“I was fearing for my life,” he said.
The Temple Police Department declined to comment on the dismissal of the case and referred questions to the DA’s office, according to agency spokeswoman Alejandra Arreguin.
Sanders was in custody at the Bell County Jail for more than two months in lieu of a $150,000 bond.
He was living at the Navigators Unlimited LLC trucking company at 3910 Shallow Ford West Road, the property where the fatal shooting occurred July 17.
Temple officers were called to the site at about 4:21 a.m. It was the city’s fourth homicide of 2021.
“The caller stated he shot someone after they came up from behind him and attacked him,” Detective Ashley Cunningham said in an arrest affidavit filed after Sanders was taken into custody.
Hambrick, who lived in a recreational vehicle at the Navigators business, was found dead at the scene. An officer found a shell casing a few feet behind his body.
Police took statements from Sanders and his girlfriend, who was also living at the trucking business. “They provided written statements that differed as to what happened prior to the suspect shooting Hambrick,” Cunningham said.
Sanders told police that “he and Hambrick got into an argument and Hambrick raised his voice” at him. Sanders said “he showed Hambrick a gun to keep ‘it’ from going any further and kept it pointed down by his side,” according to the affidavit.
Choke hold led to shooting
Sanders told police “he shot Hambrick in self-defense after Hambrick put him in a choke hold.” The suspect raised his gun and shot behind him, striking Hambrick. Sanders said the shooting occurred at about 2 a.m. — more than two hours before police were called, the affidavit said.
After the shooting, Sanders said he first called his brother, who did not answer the phone. He then called the business owner and his third call was to 911.
“I was able to download the business owner’s phone history and found a text from suspect stating, ‘Dewayne got put down; he put me in a choke hold,’” Cunningham said. “The text was sent at 4:08 a.m. Suspect called 911 at 4:21 a.m.”
Cunningham said the position of Hambrick’s body and lack of a blood trail indicated that Hambrick was shot and fell to the ground in the spot where officers discovered his body.
Police found a firearm on the floor of the business warehouse, in front of the office where Sanders and his girlfriend were living at the time of the shooting, the affidavit said.
“I observed two defects on the back of Hambrick’s head,” Cunningham said. “Based on suspect’s statement that he was in a choke hold when he shot Hambrick, in order for him to shoot victim that way, the victim would have to be leaning forward or the suspect would have had control of victim’s head to hold it to shoot.”
Cunningham initially said there was “no apparent blood splatter on suspect’s face, clothing or hands, but blood splatter was on the gun magazine.”
“I do not believe the facts and circumstances support suspect’s statements that he shot Hambrick while he was in a choke hold,” Cunningham said in the affidavit. “Hambrick had blood on the front of his shirt, pants and hands. I believe that August Sanders shot Hambrick with a firearm knowing he had inflicted serious bodily injury and did not call 911 until after Hambrick was dead from the gunshot suspect inflicted upon Hambrick.”
Sanders said Thursday that he was ready to put his life back together after the murder charge was dismissed.
“I’m going to continue living,” he said.