Suspect broke in, shot victim in the head during scuffle over shotgun, police say

Jesse Ray Nance Jr. faces several felony charges, including murder and first-degree assault.
Jesse Ray Nance Jr. faces several felony charges, including murder and first-degree assault. Fayette County jail

A man accused of breaking into a house on Chestnut Street, threatening the occupants and then fatally shooting a man the subsequent scuffle over a shotgun was in court Monday for a preliminary hearing.

A grand jury will review murder and first-degree assault charges against Jesse Ray Nance Jr., 32. Nance also is charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

During the hearing Monday, Lexington detective Timothy Upchurch testified that police were sent to a house on Chestnut Street on the night of Feb. 25 on a report of a shooting.

Officers found a woman outside near the house with a leg wound, Upchurch said. The woman told officers she thought she’d been shot with a high-caliber rifle or shotgun. Her injuries weren’t life-threatening.

Investigators who were canvasing the area for witnesses to the shooting heard screams inside a nearby house, at 570 Chestnut Street, Upchurch said. As an officer approached the house, he heard two shotgun blasts.

Nance, who was holding a shotgun, walked out of the house with several other people, Upchurch said.

Officers found John Drain Moffett, 48, inside, dead from a shotgun wound to the head, Upchurch said.

Witnesses inside the house told officers that Nance had shot through the door before coming inside, Upchurch said. Once inside, Nance reportedly heard police and threatened the people in the house.

One of the people in the house feared that Nance would shoot someone and tried to get Nance’s gun, Upchurch said. Moffett was shot during the scuffle.

At one point during Monday’s hearing, Nance spoke over the testifying detective, saying, “I’m not going to let him lie on me.”

Judge Joseph T. Bouvier told Nance not to speak until he was given an opportunity to testify. When Bouvier gave Nance that opportunity, he and his attorney declined.