Jury convicts former Caldwell County school bus driver of murder

Jury convicts former Caldwell County school bus driver of murder

CALDWELL COUNTY, N.C. — A Caldwell County woman, accused of fatally shooting her grandson's father, was found guilty of murder Friday.

The jury deliberated for 35 minutes before coming back to the judge with their verdict.

Nancy Austin, a former school bus driver at Lower Creek Elementary, is accused of killing 20-year-old Dylan Short the day after Christmas in 2013.

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Prosecutor, Lance Sigmon, spent an hour Friday explaining to the jury why Austin should be found guilty of murder.

“Killing another human being should not be done recklessly just because you can," Sigmon said.

Austin testified Wednesday, telling the jury she told Short to never come back to her property, a year before the shooting.

Austin said she was acting in self-defense when Short came to her home and assaulted her and her daughter.

“Scared, shaking all over,” Austin said Wednesday. “I was scared. He reached up, and I thought he was gonna grab Sarah again, and I shot him.”

The state Court of Appeals heard a motion in the case of self-defense.

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In the 911 call, Austin's daughter, Sarah Austin, can be heard telling the dispatcher her mom shot Short.

"There's been a shooting," she told 911 dispatchers the day of the homicide.

Sarah said her mother had no choice but to use deadly force.

"He came in here threatening me and my mom, and she kept telling him to leave and he wouldn't," Sarah told the dispatcher.

"He kept coming at me, and he threw me on the ground,” Sarah said.

"OK," the dispatcher said.

"And he hit my head, and she shot him," Sarah said.

Outside the home on Tara Place in Lenoir, deputies found Short dead from a gunshot wound to the head.

<p>Nancy Austin</p>

Nancy Austin

(Nancy Austin)

The shooting happened 15 months after Sarah filed a restraining order against Short. At that time, she claimed Short held a knife to her neck while she was pregnant with their son.

Austin told the jury she had witnessed Short throw her then-pregnant daughter to the ground at her home, and that's when she told him to never come back.

“She started to get up to leave, and he grabbed a hold of her and picked her up and threw her on the floor,” Austin recalled.

More than a year later, he came back.

Austin said he got into a shoving match with her daughter, and she grabbed a gun out of her car and told him to get off her property.

She said Short jumped on her trying to get the gun and she fired after her daughter intervened and he tried to reach for her.

“He reached up to grab her again, and that’s when I shot him,” Austin said.

Prosecutors questioned Austin’s version of events.

Short’s grandmother said the two appeared to get along on Christmas Day.

“This was a needless tragedy,” Rosemary Niewold said. “It was a tragedy that didn’t need to happen.   They were at my house the day before.”

Short’s father wore a shirt on the first day of the trial with his son’s initials on it.

He has waited 5 1/2 years for the case to go to trial and doesn’t believe the shooting was done in self-defense.

“It’s wrong,” Short’s father said. “Three hundred people showing up at his funeral, he wasn’t a violent person at all. He was very friendly, very loving, very well-known.”

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