Investigator: Man charged in ax attack claims self-defense

FORREST COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - A Hattiesburg man is behind bars charged with aggravated assault after allegedly hitting another man in the face with an ax on June 30.

Investigator John Tryner, with the Forrest County Sheriff's Department, said Andrew Woodard, 33, is the suspect in the case.

According to Tryner, the incident happened at a home on Peps Point Road when a verbal altercation turned violent.

Authorities say Woodard told them he was defending himself when he hit the man in the forehead and face with the sharp end of the ax. Tryner described the man's injury as "grievous."

"The concerns that we have is that the implement used was indeed an ax and the wound sustained by the victim was rather egregious," Tryner said. "So, we're trying to determine if the amount of force used by the suspect would be deemed reasonable."

Tryner said Woodard did not request medical attention from paramedics responding to the scene. However, the man who was hit is fighting for his life at University Medical Center in Jackson. Officials are requesting a court order to get his current condition.

The man's name has not been released, because authorities have not been able to track down any family members. The investigator added he has not been able to speak with the man since the incident to get his side of the story.

"We have not been able to interview the suspect due to his condition. And, of course, if his condition worsens or if he does pass then the charges could be amended and upgraded," said Tryner.

Tryner said the case will now go to a grand jury.

According to the Forrest County Jail roster, Woodard is still behind bars. Tryner said Woodard's bond was reduced from $25,000 to $10,000 during a hearing on July 5.

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