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Sheriff's Deputy Exonerated After Killing His Brother in Self-Defense

Dinwiddie County Sheriff’s Deputy Terrell Coles charged with killing his brother

A Dinwiddie County Sheriff’s Deputy has been exonerated in the shooting death of his brother after a Virginia family dispute ended tragically with one dead and another charged with murder.

Around 3 a.m., at the home of Terrell Coles, an argument took place between Terrell, a Dinwiddie County sheriff’s deputy, and his brother Brandon. At some point, an intoxicated Brandon retrieved his brother’s service pistol and pointed it at Terrell and his family. When Brandon refused to drop the firearm, Terrell shot once in self-defense. Brandon was fatally wounded.

After the shooting, Terrell called 9-1-1 and frantically performed CPR, pleading for his 25-year-old brother to stay alive while awaiting emergency personnel to arrive on scene.

Terrell was arrested, charged with second-degree murder, and, initially, held without bail. After a new judge was appointed, his defense attorneys were able to get his bail reduced to $5,000.

Terrell was represented by U. S. Law Shield of Virginia Independent Program Attorneys Edward Riley and Mitchell Wells of Riley & Wells Attorneys-At-Law.

“There are few scenarios that I can imagine much more difficult than what Terrell had to deal with,” said lead defense attorney Ed Riley. “If it had just been Terrell that his brother was threatening, it may have not come to that. But when the gun was swung toward his fiancée and their child, it escalated to the point that he felt it was not only him in danger — it was them. And I think unfortunately and sadly, he didn’t have a choice.”

“Terrell felt he had no choice but to shoot his brother,” added defense attorney Mitch Wells. “It’s a sad situation.”

At the request of the Dinwiddie County Sheriff, the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation Richmond Field Division conducted the investigation.

A special Dinwiddie County grand jury was convened to review the evidence in the case.

“We believe that the evidence was clear that Terrell was justified in his actions,” said Riley. “We pointed out evidence that needed to be presented to the special grand jury, which supported a legal justification of self-defense for the shooting.”

“The special grand jury agreed that Terrell was justified in using self-defense, that further prosecution efforts were not warranted or advised, and recommended that the second degree murder charge be dropped,” added Wells.

On October 4th, Dinwiddie Commonwealth Attorney Ann Cabell Baskervill motioned the Dinwiddie Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court to nolle prosequi or drop the second-degree murder charge against Terrell Coles after the prosecutor concluded that the defense was correct about Coles shooting his brother in self-defense. Retired Judge William “Bill” Boice accepted the motion to drop the case, which essentially clears Cole of any criminal wrongdoing.

Riley praised Baskervill for carefully examining the circumstances of the case. “To her credit, she really didn’t shy away from her responsibility to ensure justice was done.”

Wells added, “[T]his case exemplifies the importance of having competent legal representation in situations like this. Even if you are one-hundred percent right in your actions, you still may have to deal with the criminal justice system. You can easily go from being called ‘the victim’ to ‘the defendant’ before you know it.”

(Ed. note: Terrell Coles is not a U. S. Law Shield member; however, this case exemplifies the type of legal representation that members receive.)

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