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Man Indicted On Manslaughter Charge For Shooting Would-Be Car Thief

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HARNETT COUNTY, N.C. — A Harnett County man who authorities say killed a would-be car thief now faces voluntary manslaughter charges.

A grand jury indicted Dennis Byrd Monday for firing what prosecutors said was an unnecessary shot that killed Ashley Gilliam, 21.

The shooting happened Jan. 17 when, investigators said, Gilliam tried to steal Byrd's son-in-law's pickup truck. Byrd, who caught Gilliam in the act, shot him and hit him in the back of the head, killing him, authorities said.

"The law permits a person to use reasonable force in the defense of property; however, the law does not allow someone to use deadly force in the defense of property other than the defense of someone's home," said Harnett County District Attorney Tom Lock.

Gilliam's mother, Marilyn Gilliam, said Monday that her son shouldn't have been taking the truck, but that he didn't deserve to die.

"They took the law into their own hands," Gilliam said. "They should have let the officials handle the situation."