ROCK HILL, S.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – Family and friends couldn’t hold back their emotions when they discovered their loved one’s alleged killer would be free.

Former Chester County deputy Evan Hawthorne is accused of beating retired Rock Hill Police Lieutenant Larry Vaughn to death in July 2021. It allegedly happened at Vaughn’s apartment after a drunken argument at a bar.

Investigators say Hawthorne followed Vaughn home.

“55 minutes later, Mr. Hawthorne is seen leaving that apartment complex covered in blood on his face, on his hands, and on his clothes,” the 7th circuit solicitor said.

Hawthorne claims it was self-defense, despite sworn testimony that Vaughn never touched him.

The victim’s sister, daughter, and members of law enforcement pleaded with the judge to deny bond.

“He has the opportunity and the means to be able to… Flee and be hidden,” his sister said. “His christamas time… I had my brother for 49 Christmases, sir, and that was not enough; I beg of you to please deny bond.”

“Lt. Vaughn worked and served his community for over 30 years honorably. He was a great man. We just heard one of his daughters say that the family is in fear. I can understand that. Here’s a man that made several decisions that could’ve changed that night but, due to his actions multiple times to follow, to come in a hallway and basically go into his apartment,” said Rock Hill Police Chief Chris Watts. “He wasn’t invited. He just inserted himself, and he just wasn’t moved out. He was in another man’s home. This is a person that has the ability to flee and has the ability to harm others, and it wasn’t because of one heat of passion; there was a series of decisions, a series of actions that led up to this that has to be considered. This community, Rock Hill and York County, and the state… there is a true concern for the safety of others.”

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The judge says his verdict was based on several factors, including the defendant having no prior record despite Hawthorne possibly being a flight risk, a danger to the community, and the seriousness of the offense. Any violation of these requirements will result in an arrest.

This is Hawthorne’s second bond hearing; his first was in January. Right now, there is no trial date set for him.