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Investigation could take months
Craig Northcott.jpg
Craig Northcott

It could be months before the investigation of a fatal shooting on Sparta Highway is complete. That’s according to the district attorney who is now prosecuting the case.

“With lab reports and getting autopsy results back, it could end up being months, but I hope not,” said District Attorney General Craig Northcott of Coffee County. “I was assigned to the case on Tuesday and over the last three days my office has been playing catch-up. We’ve been reaching out and trying to get up to speed. We are definitely in an investigative posture right now.”

Northcott said on Friday he is not prepared to identify the man who shot and killed Christopher Hollis, 36, last Sunday as the two were travelling in separate vehicles on Sparta Highway. A number of people have called the Standard office in recent days wondering why the man has not been identified, but law enforcement officials have declined to do so.

District Attorney General Lisa Zavogiannis has recused herself from the case due to a conflict of interest. An employee at her office is related to Hollis. In addition, the alleged shooter has relatives who work at Warren County Sheriff’s Depart-ment and McMinnville Police Department and Zavogiannis works closely with both of those agencies.

When asked about a possible criminal charge, which could range from manslaughter to murder, Northcott said it’s too early to say.

“I have no idea,” he said. “It will depend on what I learn over the course of the investigation. Considering this is a high-profile case, I’m going to be extremely careful about any information I release.”

In the event a criminal charge is leveled, defense attorney Bud Sharp has been retained by the man who shot and killed Hollis. It appears the only way a criminal charge could be avoided is if the prosecution decides the shooter acted in self-defense.

Details continue to remain sketchy surrounding the shooting as law enforcement officials are not releasing information. Based on initial reports, the two men became engaged in an argument during a brief confrontation as they were driving inbound on Sparta Highway. 

The two men reportedly did not know each other.