By Zach Armstrong
DINWIDDIE, Va -- A Dinwiddie County man who faced charges of manslaughter for shooting his best friend who he mistook for an intruder has been cleared of his charges after authorities decided his gun had accidentally discharged during the encounter.
Dinwiddie General District Court Judge Kenneth Blalock withdrew a voluntary manslaughter charge against Matthew Allen Sharpf based on a recommendation of Dinwiddie Commonwealth’s Attorney Ann Cabell Baskervill.
The police, the prosecution, the defense and the victim’s family agreed that Sharpf’s actions were the result of an accident that led to the death of his closest friend, Jonathan “John” Hankins.
On the evening of June 8, Sharpf was asleep in his home on Coleman’s Lake Road when Hankins arrived to pay him a visit just before 11 p.m.
Hankins then began banging on the door and the side of the house to wake up Sharpf. Sharpf, once awoken, saw the silhouette of a person and grabbed his handgun believing it to be an intruder. Sharpf’s had accidentally discharged his gun moments later, striking Hankins and killing him instantly.
Sharpf and Hankins had been incredibly close friends for years. So much so that Hankins was the best man for Sharpf at his wedding.