Quiet for the last month as authorities probed the shooting that shattered their lives, the family of Charles Thomas Wayne “Bubba” Fasbenner Jr. is speaking out in hopes of securing justice in an April 3 incident that cost the 20-year-old man his life.
Bubba’s grandparents, Buddy Wayne and Carolyn Butler, his sister, Heather Maxwell, and his cousin Karen Sanders, all met Monday with Assistant State Attorney Jarred Patterson in their search for answers.
“The way it looks, it’s up to the sheriff’s department,” said Buddy Wayne Butler. “They’re waiting on them. They haven’t got nothing yet. They said it’s still ongoing.”
Sheriff Mike Mock has said that while the case is not closed, he has decided not to charge Ronald Joseph Page, 24, in the shooting death of Fasbenner, who entered Page’s yard at 277 Timothy Simmons Road around 9:45 p.m. Page shot and killed Fasbenner with a 22-cal. rifle, and said he did so after Fasbenner continued towards him and he was repeatedly told to leave. Page said he fired a warning shot at his feet as well, before firing the lethal shot.
Patterson said he does not plan to act without consultation with his boss, State Attorney Willie Meggs, who spoke on the matter Friday.
“We have knowledge of the event,” he said. “As far as I know, I can tell you I have not received an autopsy report, not a crime scene report. I don’t even know what caliber bullet it was.”
Meggs said that based on what he knows so far, the matter will be addressed as to whether the homeowner has a justified claim of self-defense. He said this is likely not a matter involving the Stand Your Ground law, since a homeowner can always stand their ground if they are being threatened in their home.
“As far as I know, this has nothing to do with Stand Your Ground,” said Meggs. “You never had a duty to retreat in your own home.”
He said that in weighing the case, the question could become whether Page “was justified to use deadly force to prevent great bodily harm or imminent death.
“Just because it’s said it was self-defense, doesn’t make it self-defense,” said Meggs. “I don’t know all of the facts of this case.”
Meggs said he has heard from some of the friends of the Fasbenner family, but has only received one phone call from a family member. He said that his office will rely on the sheriff’s investigation.
“The sheriff is the elected law enforcement officer,” he said. “I don’t think I expect him to bring every case to us. If they do, we’ll be happy to work with him.”
Meggs said he could decide to bring the matter to a grand jury, which is only mandated for first-degree murder cases, of which this clearly was not one.
“It’s not a case at all yet,” he said. “I have the authority to convene (a grand jury) to ask them to look into this, but I don’t have anything to present to a grand jury yet. If we feel we need a grand jury to look at it, we don’t have a grand jury sitting in Franklin County and if we need one we’ll certainly get one.
“If the sheriff of Franklin County does not elect to bring something to us, then I don’t have a complaint to work on,” Meggs said. “We’re prosecutors, not investigators.”
Butler said the family has not reached out to Meggs because they have been waiting for law enforcement to complete their work. The toxicology and autopsy reports are expected within weeks.
“I think he (Page) should be held accountable,” said Fasbenner’s grandfather. “It doesn’t make sense to me that this would be a justified shooting. I just don’t really know; a lot of things don’t make sense.
“I know my young’un,” he said. “He was taught to respect others and not take something that didn’t belong to him.
“We don’t have money to hire a lawyer, but I would like for them to know we care about our young’un,” said Butler. “I raised that boy. He’s never done nothing like that. He wasn’t no thief or nothing.
“He was in the wrong yard and he got shot down,” said Buddy Wayne Butler. “He worked all day that day, he went out oystering. He worked hard that day and I know he was sunburnt and tired.”
Butler said he supports law enforcement, and the sheriff himself, but does not agree with Mock’s conclusions.
“I told him we weren’t giving up,” he said. “They made up their mind that night they were going to believe him (Page).
That baby didn’t deserve that. He wasn’t armed and he wasn’t trying to break in,” he said. “I’d hate to see somebody just coldblooded kill somebody and get away with it.”