Man claims shooting grandmother twice was accidental, prosecutors say

Woman's grandson charged with murder in her death

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas – A man charged with murder in the death of his 67-year-old grandmother was expected in probable cause court Monday morning, but did not appear due to suicide watch, prosecutors said.

The Harris County Sheriff's Office said Hazel Billingsley's body was found with multiple gunshot wounds after 2 p.m. Sunday wrapped in a blue and green blanket in a shed behind a trailer home in the 17000 block of E. Longwood Meadows.

Relatives said they don't know why Nathan Billingsley would want to hurt his grandmother.

"He took my mother-in-laws’s life and that’s the only person I know that really cared for him, more than her other grandkids. (She) really favored him most, and I’m just in shock right now. I can’t believe he would do something like that to my mother-in-law." Sunny Zamir said.

Prosecutors said in court Monday that Nathan Billingsley admitted to killing his grandmother, but said it was an accident. He told investigators Hazel Billingsley was standing about 5 or 6 feet away from him when he shot her twice while he was handling a gun, prosecutors said. He admitted to deputies that he tried to clean up Hazel Billingsley’s blood and put her body in the shed, according to prosecutors.

"He admitted to accidentally shooting the complainant, which he believed was twice as he handled the weapon, and the complainant was standing in the living room. He admitted to attempting to clean up the scene and placing the complainant's body in a metal shed in the backyard of the residence," the prosecutor said. "Complainant was wrapped in a blanket, which the suspect admitted he did prior to placing the body in the shed."

Investigators said evidence of soot and stippling in the gunshot wounds showed that the victim was shot at a closer range than Nathan Billingsley reported.

His girlfriend told investigators that she was outside when she heard the shots, prosecutors said. She said she went inside and saw the victim lying on the floor and saw Billingsley wrapping his grandmother in a blanket, prosecutors said.

The girlfriend said she ran back outside and Billingsley threatened to kill her and anyone else who came into the home or might be a witness.

"She was outside when she heard the gunshots from the interior of the residence, and when she went inside she saw the complainant lying on the ground and the defendant was wrapping her in a blanket," the prosecutor said. "The girlfriend of the defendant advised that she ran back outside and advised that after the defendant had shot the complainant he threatened to kill her and any other person who came into the residence." 

Nathan Billingsley and his girlfriend were taken into custody and questioned by homicide detectives Sunday. She was questioned and released.

Family of the victim said they are disappointed that Billingsley's girlfriend was released after questioning.

Investigators said relatives of Hazel Billingsley called 911 Sunday for a welfare check. They told investigators that Nathan Billingsley told them via text message that he would kill his mother and grandmother.

Officials said other relatives who live at the house left Saturday and called to check on Hazel Billingsley Saturday evening. The family did not make contact with her, investigators said.

Family returned to the house Sunday and found Billingsley and his girlfriend loading belongings into Hazel Billingsley's car, investigators said.

"On the way to church I found out he was trying to lure her to the house – little did I know he had already killed my mother-in-law," Zamir said. "So, when I pulled up he was packing my mother-in-law's vehicle, and when I honked at him he ran in the house. And that’s when I jumped out of the car, started banging on the windows and then I broke the fence to go in the backyard. Looks like he’d already fled and went into the woods and that’s when I ran outside and I told my sister-in-law ‘Call 911! Call 911!’”

Nathan Billingsley and his girlfriend ran, but sheriff's deputies found them hiding in a nearby wooded area, investigators said.

Investigators confirmed that Billingsley had a gun when they took him and his girlfriend into custody.

Harris County homicide detectives found blood inside the house and on a back porch while executing a search warrant.

Nathan Billingsley has a history of crime, including one charge for theft in Harris County and a  charge for possession of marijuana in Galveston. But KPRC 2 was unable to find any violent offenses.

He is being held on a $200,000 bond.

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