Thanks to a gag order issued by Judge John Gauntt, new developments in the Marvin Guy capital murder case have seldom been released, but the case made national news Sunday when The New York Times included it in a series about forced entry of homes by police across the country.
Monday’s front-page article — titled “Murder or self-defense if officer is killed in raid?” — was written by Kevin Sack, an Atlanta-based correspondent for The Times.
It specifically compares Guy’s case with that of Henry Magee, a man from Somerville — about 100 miles southeast of Killeen — whose case shares several similarities with Guy’s, including the death of a police officer.
Magee was indicted by a Burleson County grand jury on a charge of possession of more than 4 ounces of marijuana. He awaits an April 3 trial, but has since been freed on $50,000 bond.
Magee and his girlfriend — who was pregnant at the time — awoke to the sound of a loud bang at the door. Magee said he thought he was being robbed when he grabbed an AR-10 semiautomatic rifle from a closet, and fired at the officers.
Though he wore body armor, Investigator Adam Sowders was struck in the head. He died on scene.
Marvin Guy case
It’s been three years since the Killeen Police Department executed a no-knock search warrant at Guy’s apartment on Circle M Drive, which led to the death of Detective Charles “Chuck” Dinwiddie, a leader on the police department’s SWAT team.
Guy, who is still in the Bell County Jail on a $4.5 million bond, is charged with one count of capital murder and three counts of attempted capital murder. The Bell County district attorney’s office is seeking the death penalty in the case.
The New York Times story Sunday was the second in its series that examines forcible entry executions of search warrants. Sack explored cases in which the forced entry by police didn’t go well, particularly those that ended with the death of either a civilian or a police officer.
“The project is really about the risk/reward ratio in these kind of operations, where often times they’re targeting relatively small amounts of narcotics and small-time dealers, but they encourage this shocking level of force,” Sack said in a phone interview Monday. “So the question really is whether or not it’s disproportionate. Are the risks too great to justify the good that they may do in cleaning up small-time drug dealers? Both of these Texas cases are perfect examples of that. Nothing could be more tragic than (the death of the officers).”
Killeen police believed Guy was dealing cocaine. The warrant indicated police expected to find cocaine, money and possibly weapons in the apartment or in Guy’s vehicles.
The police carried out the no-knock warrant to try to ensure the drugs could not be destroyed before police entered the home. Guy has said he believed there was an intruder in the home, and that is why he fired his handgun at the officers when police broke a window about 5:30 a.m. May 9, 2014.
In addition to Dinwiddie’s death, one other Killeen police officer was shot in the leg during the gunfire. Two other police officers were shot and hit in their body armor.
The first story in The Times’ series, titled “Door-Busting Drug Raids Leave a Trail of Blood,” focused on numerous cases throughout the country, from Worcester, Mass., to Los Angeles, After extensive research, Sacks and other employees at The Times found 94 deaths that included 81 civilians and 13 police officers as a result of these raids.
In 2015, Worcester’s SWAT team broke through the front door of the apartment of a known drug dealer. After two children, a man and a woman were detained, police realized the drug dealer moved out of the apartment three months earlier. In 2014, a flashbang grenade used in a raid in northwest Georgia landed in the playpen of a 19-month-old child.
While writing the second story in the series, Sack said, he noticed many similarities between Magee and Guy’s cases. Yet the end result may be completely different.
”I wanted to try and find a narrative vehicle in ways that the opening story cannot, really bring these situations into people’s lives and make it so they could relate in a very personal way,” Sack said.
“The fact that these two cases happened so close to each other, both geographically and in time, there are similar factors in the way that the investigations came together, tragically similar outcomes in dead officers, dissimilar outcomes in the way that the justice system is handling them. All of that together made it a really rich system to look at.”
There is still no trial date set for Guy, and during the last status hearing Feb. 23, Gauntt signed three orders in the case. One of them dealt with DNA testing, and another with ballistics evidence and “portions of discoveries that the state thinks they should not have to turn over.”
Guy will have another status hearing at 11 a.m. April 6. It’s unclear what will be discussed.
When reached by phone Monday, Guy’s attorney Anthony Smith said he couldn’t comment on the case, citing the gag order Gauntt issued on the case in September 2015.
KPD continues to execute no-knock warrants, according to information on arraignment affidavits and to interim Police Chief Margaret Young.
A previous version of this story said that Sack's story that featured Guy ran in Sunday's New York Times. The story was published online Sunday, but appeared on the front page of Monday's print edition. The Daily Herald regrets the error.