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Donald Stuard
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The man with the swollen jaw and wired mouth talked slowly about Sept. 5.

Adam Brown said he had pulled into the Kangaroo gas station with his 10-year-old son. They walked inside, bought drinks, he paid for gas. Then he moved his top-down convertible to a shady side of the parking lot so his son could sell candy bars for a school fundraiser.

Prosecutor Lance Pope asked Brown in court if he had any knives, guns, bats or sticks in the car.

No, Brown said.

But shortly after that, Brown encountered Donald Thomas Stuard II in the parking lot. And Stuard shot him in the face, Brown said Tuesday in Hamilton County General Sessions Court.

After listening to testimony from Brown and law enforcement, Judge Clarence Shattuck sent Stuard's charge of attempted first-degree murder to the grand jury and left his bond at $450,000.

Defense attorney Garth Best said Stuard, who has no previous criminal history in Hamilton County, should face aggravated assault charges instead. Best said Stuard only drew and fired his weapon in a moment of fear. And then, Best said, after authorities tracked him to Rhea County, Stuard cooperated and tried to help them find his gun, which he allegedly tossed into a lake.

Best pushed for bond reduction, since Stuard remains in the Hamilton County Jail. Gail Stuard, the defendant's mother, said her son was a veteran who lived with Asperger's syndrome and hadn't been emotionally the same since he returned from overseas in 2009.

"Part of it is, you can't judge social cues," Gail Stuard said. "Like when you're talking to somebody and you might get the sense that you're becoming boring and tedious? He can't pick up on that."

"Did he develop that later in life or did he always have [this condition]?" Best asked.

"When he was younger, he was a little quirky," Gail Stuard replied. "But he's not the same young man that we sent to the Army.

"Since he's gotten out of the Army he's a different person in the same body. It's almost like we've gotten back a clone," she said. 'He's not violent, but every once in a while, things overwhelm him. He doesn't talk about things much. There's a lot of things we still don't know, like what happened in Iraq. We don't know all the details of this because he shuts down."

During his questioning, Pope asked Gail Stuard whether she and her husband kept guns in the house.

She said her family did, but that she would monitor her son's behavior if he was allowed to make bond and live with her.

Shattuck asked about Donald Stuard's previous arrests for aggravated assault in Rhea County. A Hamilton County deputy brought them up earlier in the hearing.

Gail Stuard said she knew about an incident where a man who had gotten out of jail stayed in her son's room and allegedly stole thousands of dollars worth of his possessions. Donald Stuard saw the man later and got overwhelmed, hitting the man's female companion, Gail Stuard said.

Ultimately, Shattuck said he could not grant a bond reduction.

"I appreciate your testimony," he said to Gail Stuard. "Sometimes he easily gets overwhelmed. I'm concerned about the safety of the community. And that's what bothers me. So the court will not lower his bond."

"Will the court consider house arrest?" Best asked.

"With this serious charge," Shattuck said, "I don't think so."

If the grand jury returns an indictment, Stuard will receive an arraignment date in Hamilton County Criminal Court.

Contact staff writer Zack Peterson at zpeter son@times freepress.com or 423-757-6347. Follow him on Twitter @zackpeterson918.

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