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Hallettsville man stabbed to death; family members describe incident as self-defense

By Gheni_Platenburg
Aug. 11, 2010 at 3:11 a.m.

Shanon Houseman

HALLETTSVILLE - A Hallettsville man died Tuesday night after being stabbed by his stepson, Lavaca County Sheriff Micah Harmon said Wednesday.

Shanon Reese Houseman, 42, died after being stabbed multiple times at his home in the 21570 block of Farm-to-Market Road 530 near the Speaks community in southern Lavaca County.

Officially, the details surrounding Houseman's death are still under investigation, Harmon said.

Harmon declined to name the stepson. As of Wednesday evening, no arrests had been made.

However, both Harmon and Houseman's family members shared details that helped piece together the fatal incident.

Harmon said deputies were called twice that day to investigate reports of family disturbances at the home that Houseman had shared with his wife, Sharon Houseman, for the past two years.

She said Wednesday that the troubles began Tuesday morning when she asked her husband to read a letter she wrote to him explaining her desire to end their 17-year marriage.

"I just decided to break up with him, and he did not take it well," she said.

The widow declined to go into details about why she wanted a divorce, but she said it had nothing to do with violence.

She and her daughter, Jonell Lewis, described Shanon Houseman as being "hot-headed," but they agreed the anger he exhibited Tuesday morning was uncharacteristic of him.

"He blew up and started threatening everyone in the house," said 28-year-old Lewis, who witnessed her stepfather's reaction. "We were afraid, so we called the sheriff's office."

Houseman left before deputies arrived to investigate the first disturbance call, claiming he was headed back to his hometown of Mobile, Ala., said Lewis.

Instead, he returned to his Hallettsville-area home later that night, prompting his wife to make a second call for help.

Sharon Houseman said she and her husband were outside arguing when her 21-year-old son came to her aid.

The fight ensued shortly thereafter, with Houseman throwing the first blow, the family members said.

"Shanon came after my son first with a bat and a machete," the mother said. "He was very volatile."

Family members declined to fully name the son, but said Houseman helped raise him since the age of 2.

Houseman's widow said her son, who had experienced a previous violent altercation with her husband when he was 16, was carrying a concealed knife for protection.

Lavaca County Sheriff's deputies arrived at the home after the incident, accompanied by the Texas Rangers.

Houseman was stabbed with what appeared to be a "large, hunting-type knife," said Harmon.

Houseman was pronounced dead at the scene after 10 p.m. by Lavaca County Justice of the Peace Tramer Woytek.

His body was taken to the Travis County Medical Examiners' Office for an autopsy.

Shanon Houseman's stepson declined to comment on the incident.

On Wednesday, those closest to Houseman remained shocked and confused about what caused the situation to escalate to such a violent point.

Houseman's sister-in-law, Ashley Anderson, who spoke on behalf of the Houseman family in Alabama, said they believe his death was the result of foul play.

"What they are saying happened doesn't seem possible for those who knew him," said Anderson. "We feel like he was trying to defend himself."

She added, "His family is grieving his loss and is hoping for justice."

Sharon Houseman maintained her son stabbed his stepfather in self-defense.

"His attitude changed just recently," she said about her late husband. "He just had a hot temper and he let it get the best of him."

She continued, "Shanon was a good man. He had served in the Navy and he loved me and (his stepson)."

Childhood friend Marc Guffey was also in disbelief over his friend's death.

"All this was just a shock," said Guffey, who lives in Mobile.

The two had recently reconnected online and were planning a face-to-face reunion for September.

"He was a really, really nice guy who always had a smile on his face," said Guffey. "Even though he was a big guy, he always took up for the small guy."

A search of court records showed Houseman had no prior criminal history in Lavaca County.

Also, Harmon said there was no record that law enforcement had been called to the home for family disturbances before Tuesday.

Lewis said the family is struggling to deal with their grief. They are doing it in the same house they moved to in an attempt to escape the violence and craziness of big city life, she said.

"My mom's really taking this hard," said Lewis. "We moved out here to get away from BS and just live peacefully on our own property."

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