State won’t prosecute in Lowgap stabbing death

By Terri Flagg -

DOBSON — No criminal charges will be filed in the stabbing death of Levi Joe Haynes, the Surry County District Attorney’s office announced Friday, more than three months after he was killed.

On May 7, deputies found Haynes, 26, dead on the front porch of a Big Oak Lane residence in Lowgap.

He had been stabbed once in the back during a physical altercation with his 19-year-old girlfriend, Autumn Marie Hawks, according to information provided by Sheriff Graham Atkinson.

District Attorney Ricky Bowman said the decision not to charge Hawks was made after consulting with the Surry County Sheriff’s Office, which investigated the incident.

“I, along with my senior staff, have determined that there is insufficient evidence in the death of Levi Haynes to bring a criminal case under the law and under the circumstances as revealed by the investigation,” Bowman stated in an email.

“Mr. Haynes’s death is certainly very tragic, however, from the evidence, it appears to be an act of self-defense,” Bowman said.

Haynes and Hawks had apparently been cohabiting in a camper located at the Lowgap property where the incident occurred.

“The evidence showed there had been a history of domestic violence,” Bowman said.

“On the very day of the stabbing, there had been continuous arguing and fighting between Levi Haynes and Autumn Marie Hawks and at least two acts of domestic violence against her earlier in the day prior to the stabbing.”

Hawks told authorities that at the time of the stabbing, Haynes had hit her twice and started choking her.

Unable to breathe or get away, she got an arm free, grabbed a knife Haynes kept on his bedside table and stabbed him.

There were no other witnesses to the incident, Bowman said.

Atkinson said autopsy results indicated the presence of alcohol and narcotics in Haynes’s system.

“The evidence was insufficient to bring any criminal case under any statute, from murder to assault,” the district attorney said, a determination with which Atkinson said he agreed.

“I know that there are people who feel strongly she should be charged,” said the sheriff. “I understand that it’s an emotional thing, but we have to operate off facts and evidence. When we reviewed those things, it was obvious he was killed, but not that the killing was unlawful.”

“There’s not enough evidence to warrant a criminal prosecution, period,” he continued. “If at any point that evidence develops, we’ll take another look at it.”

In December 2015, Hawks and Haynes were arrested after allegedly leading deputies on a chase in a stolen vehicle.

After driving into a field, the couple took off on foot into the woods but were eventually stopped and cooperated, according to police reports.

Haynes was charged with larceny of a motor vehicle, possession of a stolen motor vehicle and fleeing to elude arrest with a motor vehicle.

Hawks was charged with aiding and abetting larceny.

It was not clear at press time if those charges have been disposed.

By Terri Flagg

Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.

Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.

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