The two sides in the case of Clifford Wood, who is accused of killing Sean Houchens, offered conflicting explanations in court last week of what happened between the two men.
At a bond hearing for Wood in Louisa Circuit Court, attorney Joseph Morrissey said Wood acted in self-defense in the early hours of Sept. 1 after Houchens threatened him, knocked him down and pulled a gun on him at a house on Jefferson Highway (Rt. 33) near the Hanover County line.
That contradicted the account of Rusty McGuire, Louisa County commonwealth’s attorney, who said no gun was found at the scene. It was Wood who threatened Houchens, McGuire said, and only Wood who had a weapon.
Wood, 45, is charged with first-degree murder, illegal use of a firearm and possession of a gun by a convicted felon. He was denied bond after the three-hour hearing on Jan. 31, during which Wood’s son, Brandon, and a friend testified that they heard and saw Houchens attack Wood before the shooting. Both men said Wood had gone to the house to pay off part of a drug debt he owed Houchens.
Det. Mark Foster, who investigated the case for the Louisa County Sheriff’s Office, testified that Brandon’s friend, Stephen Phillips, told him Clifford Wood was jealous of Houchens for spending time with a woman who lived in the house. Wood was in a relationship with the woman, McGuire said.
Wood had gone to the house the previous day to take a shower, because the water at his own home in Locust Creek wasn’t working, Phillips told Foster. The detective testified that at some point the two women and three others at the house told Wood not to come back, angering him. One of the witnesses said Wood pointed a gun at Houchens before he left the house.
He returned some time later with his son, Phillips and a third man. When Wood saw Houchens inside the house, Houchens threatened to kill him, Morrissey said. The attorney said that Houchens then pushed Wood through a plate-glass window, knocked him down the front stairs, kicked him and punched him in the mouth with a closed fist.
Wood broke the plate-glass window on his own when he returned and tried to enter the house, McGuire said.
“They said [Wood] walked down the stairs,” Foster told Morrissey, referring to witnesses he interviewed.
“Were you aware [Wood] had no front teeth?” Morrissey asked Foster, suggesting that was due to being attacked by Houchens.
(This is a partial article. Read full article in the Feb. 8, 2018 issue of The Central Virginian)