Hopkins County man, 32, charged in death of brother
Brashear man, 46, apparently dies from stab wound
Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

Nov. 2, 2004 -- Justin Heath Gafford was formally charged Wednesday morning with the Nov. 1 stabbing death of his brother, 46-year-old Frankie Mike Gafford of Brashear.

The 32-year-old Brashear man was arraigned Wednesday morning by Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Yvonne King at the county jail, where he remained at 11 a.m. Wednesday in lieu of $1 million bond on the first-degree felony murder charge.

Deputies also filed offense reports Tuesday against Justin Heath Gafford for two other charges -- unauthorized use of his neighbor's 1983 GMC pickup and assault stemming from an altercation with another brother.

The suspect was apprehended in Titus County Monday night following a 30-mile pursuit which began in Hopkins County.

Hopkins County Sheriff's Cpl. Jimmy White, and Deputies Charles Humphries and Cliff Gloar were the first to respond to a report of an altercation around 9 p.m. at Justin Heath Gafford's residence on County Road 1115. There they found Mike Gafford dead on the floor from an apparent puncture wound to the left side of his neck. HCSO Chief Deputy Rickey Morgan, HCSO Chief Investigator Andy Chester, and Investigators Jace Anglin and Lewis Tatum were called to the scene.

According to reports, a neighbor called for emergency assistance after an altercation occurred between Justin Heath Gafford and another brother, who had gone to the residence and found Mike Gafford laying on the floor, injured.

After a neighbor broke up the fight between the brothers, Justin Heath located the keys to his neighbor's 1980s model Chevrolet pickup and fled the scene.

All other available sheriff's officers, along with Sulphur Springs Police Department and Texas Department of Public Safety officers, were alerted of the situation and began attempting to locate the vehicle.

Meanwhile, Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Yvonne King was contacted, and pronounced Frankie Mike Gafford dead at 10:05 p.m.

The deceased was noted to have what appeared to investigators to be a fatal puncture wound on his neck. He also had approximately two dozen stab wounds throughout his body.

The body was sent to Dallas for autopsy to determine the time and cause of death. Officials suspect the victim had died earlier in the day.

At 10:19 p.m., dispatchers received a 9-1-1 call from an eastbound motorist reporting a suspected drunk driver on Interstate 30 near Weaver. The license plate number matched that of the pickup being driven by the suspect.

Franklin County Sheriff's Office deputies spotted the vehicle and initiated a pursuit, with Hopkins County sheriff's officers and DPS units rushing to catch up. At one point the vehicle reportedly ran a patrol car off the road during the chase.

The vehicle was stopped near the 165 mile marker in Titus County, east of Mount Pleasant after state troopers put out spikes which punctured the truck tires and gradually slowed the vehicle to a stop at 10:51 p.m.

Titus County authorities took him into custody and DPS officers transported him to Titus County Sheriff's Office. He was later transferred to Hopkins County Tuesday morning.

Once at Hopkins County Sheriff's Office, Justin Heath Gafford was noted to become combative and uncooperative with officers, and had to be pepper-sprayed, according to arrest reports. He remained at the county jail, where he awaited arraignment at noon Tuesday.

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