Walker County detectives have arrested and charged Steven Lewis Whittaker, 58, with murder in the stabbing death of Lebron Hankins Jr. Friday night, Aug. 17, on Rogers Road in Rossville.
According to a preliminary autopsy report from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Hankins had over fifty stab and cut wounds on his head, neck, chest and arms. The autopsy also revealed that Hankins was strangled and sustained a broken neck and a crushed larynx.
Walker County Coroner Dewayne Wilson told the Chattanooga Times Free Press the attack on Hankins was violent. “It was brutal,” the coroner said. “I mean, brutal.”
Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson said Whittaker killed LeBron “Buddy” Hankins Jr. around 10:15 p.m. Aug. 17. The sheriff told the Times Free Press that Whittaker called 911 about 30-45 minutes later but that he was not sure why Whittaker waited so long to report the death. When officers arrived on the scene, Whittaker had a stab wound in his stomach, and paramedics drove him to a local hospital for surgery.
Whittaker told officers that he killed Hankins in self-defense. Whit-taker told investigators that he and Hankins were childhood friends and had gotten into an argument after drinking beer and bourbon at Hankins house. He said that Hankins attacked him and that he fought Hankins off to save himself.
The Times Free Press reported that according to Walker County 911 records, officers have responded to Whittaker's house about 40 times since 2016. Whittaker was arrested in 2009 on a charge of simple assault and in September 2016 on a battery charge. One of Whittaker's arrests was for a previous attack on Hankins, said Sheriff Wilson. Police also charged Whittaker with aggravated cruelty to animals in June 2017, and that case is pending in Walker County Superior Court.
Whittaker was arrested Tuesday night, Aug. 21, and charged with Hankin’s murder. He will remain in the Walker County Jail while waiting for a Superior Court hearing, according to Sheriff Wilson.