LILBURN -- When Lilburn police officers arrived at 537 Hillcrest Road Saturday, at 10:12 p.m., this is what they found.
A red Mitsubishi 3000GT at the end of the driveway, facing east, the driver's side door open. Rodrigo Abad Diaz, 22, slumped over in the driver's seat, his head and face covered in blood; alive but unresponsive.
Diaz's girlfriend -- her own jeans, arms and hands soaked in blood -- frantically screaming that he had been shot and trying to wake him up.
Two teens, brothers and fellow passengers, standing behind the car.
Phillip Walker Sailors, the home's 69-year-old resident, stood outside also. He "made a spontaneous utterance that he shot the driver," one officer noted.
At 6:08 a.m. Sunday, Diaz was pronounced dead at Gwinnett Medical Center -- the bullet from Sailors' six-shot, .22-caliber Ruger revolver had entered the left side of his head and fragmented, "causing severe damage to the brain and bones in the skull."
By 10:39 a.m., Sailors was formally charged with malice murder. By 12:22 p.m., he was booked into the Gwinnett County Detention Center.
Those in the car with Diaz, a Duluth resident, assert that they followed incorrect directions into the wrong driveway, and were innocently turning around. Another witness reportedly heard Sailors yelling about "why was someone trying to get inside (his) house," and the suspect's lawyer said his defendant was merely protecting himself.
Aside from a police report that better outlined the aftermath (not the event) and a short statement, the police are staying mum.
"At this point we have established probable cause to charge Mr. Sailors and when the investigation is complete, we will turn over the case file to the Gwinnett County District Attorney's Office for processing," Lilburn Police Chief Bruce Hedley said. "To preserve the integrity of the case, I will not be releasing further information concerning this incident."
According to reports and warrants, Diaz and his Mitsubishi were in fact pulling away from Sailors' property when he was killed. The report said the quartet in the vehicle was on its way to go skating.
Michael Puglise, Sailors' attorney, called the incident a "tragic, tragic event" and said that background information of Diaz and his friends "wasn't available to Mr. Sailors."
"You have to look at the way Mr. Sailors was looking at it," Puglise said, maintaining his client's innocence. "You're dealing with an elderly gentleman who has his elderly wife inside the home. And Lilburn isn't the same quiet, quaint town it once was ... We're not implicating the four people in the car as bad people. But you've got to look at it with what Mr. Sailors perceived in that split second."
The attorney said Sailors is a Vietnam veteran and has served as a Christian lay minister in Latin America, and that -- with a wall down the street adorned with gang graffiti and the recent robbery of his mother-in-law's home next door -- he mistakenly assumed he was in danger.
"We live in a state of fear, and fear dictates this, and this is awful," Puglise said. "This is the tragedy we have to deal with afterward."
Sailors is being held without bond.