Families call for justice in Harnett County killings
Posted May 1
Lillington, N.C. — Family members of two men killed in separate Harnett County incidents met Sunday morning in a protest calling for action and accountability in the justice system.
Lots of red balloons were visible at the Harnett County Sheriff’s Department Sunday morning because red is the school color of North Carolina State University, where Christian Griggs once studied.
“He was a very loving person. He would do anything for anybody,” said Griggs’ mother, Dolly Griggs.
Red is also the color used to represent survivors of homicide victims, which is something Dolly and Tony Griggs said is now a part of life they struggle with because they believe justice has not been served in the case of their son’s death.
Friends of John Livingston feel the same way. They don’t believe justice was served after Livingston was shot and killed in his own home by Deputy Nicholas Kehagias in November.
“I was in shock, disbelief,” said Livingston’s friend Penny Setzer.
Witnesses and friends point out the deputy did not have a search warrant or Livingston’s permission to enter the home. They said an investigation published by the News and Observer revealed new information in the case.
“The officers of Harnett County didn’t do their job like they should have and so my friend is no longer here,” said Sezter.
The State Bureau of Investigation looked into Livingston’s case, which went to a Grand Jury on charges of second-degree murder. The Grand Jury did not indict and Kehagias is not facing any charges.
“Right is right. Wrong is wrong, and he’s wrong. He can’t just get away with it,” said Setzer.
Harnett County Sheriff Wayne Coats said he stands by the decision made by the District Attorney and Grand Jury.
Kehagias was on administrative leave during an internal investigation and investigation by the SBI. He is now on workers compensation leave because of his injuries.
Coats said he cannot comment on the deputy’s future at the department because of pending litigation.
“We’re just going to wait and see what happens when he comes back from workers comp,” Coats said.
Both families are demanding answers, justice, and a change in Harnett County.
“This is something that people have accepted; that justice doesn’t come out of Harnett County. That is not ok to accept,” said Dolly Griggs.