While there are at least two sides to every story, when it comes to true crime shows, viewers often are (understandably) only given information from the perspective of the victim's loved ones. The premise of A&E's latest show, Accused: Guilty or Innocent is that the crimes shown will be told from the perspective of the accused killer or guilty party.
On the debut episode of the show, which premieres on April 21, Bryan Steven Lawson will give his side of the story when it comes to the murder of his wife, Beth "Chandra" Lawson. She was killed in their living room, and at first, it appeared as if Lawon had murdered her in cold blood. But, home footage later revealed a new element to the tragedy.
What did Bryan Steven Lawson do? Find out the details of the crime, Lawson's defense, and to learn where he is today.
What did Bryan Steven Lawson from 'Accused: Guilty or Innocent' do?
The A&E series certainly takes a different approach to a typical true crime show, because the entire story is told only from the side of the defense. Bryan Steven Lawson shot his wife, Chandra Lawson, to death on Jan. 27, 2017 in the living room of the Hawkins, Tenn. apartment they shared together. She was shot three times with a handgun.
Sadly, the crime was committed in front of their toddler son.
Soon after police arrived on the scene, Bryan Steven Lawson was arrested and charged with first degree murder. But, the couple had a surveillance camera set up in their apartment, which showcased both the events of murder and the moments leading up to it. This footage would end up helping Bryan Steven Lawson immensely.
At the time he was arrested, Bryan Steven Lawson immediately began telling authorities and his legal representation that his wife had become abusive toward him after she suffered from a neck injury. He claimed that she began abusing the pills prescribed to her as a result of her neck pain, and that she had become irritable and aggressive.
He also alleged that his wife had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and that she was in a low at the time of the murder.
In the security footage, Chandra Lawson could be seen hitting her husband with her hands and holding a baseball bat over him. When she left the room, Bryan Steven Lawson grabbed a handgun and he hid it from his wife's view.
When she returned to the living room and struck her husband in the head with her hand, Bryan Steven Lawson opened fire.
He later said that he shot his wife because he was tired of her abuse.
Once his legal team, which consisted of father-son duo Daniel and Larry Boyd, convinced authorities to make the security footage public, the case against Bryan Steven Lawson changed.
He took a plea deal in February of 2019, which had him accepting the lesser charges of voluntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Bryan Steven Lawson is now a free man.
Per the terms of his plea deal, Bryan Steven Lawson was to be eligible for parole after serving 20% of his sentence (normal terms are 30%). After serving three years in prison, he was released on good behavior. He's since expressed regret for the murder, and for exposing his young son to the tragedy.
Chandra Lawson's son from a previous relationship, Liam Windham, was 17 years old at the time of his mother's murder. Along with Chandra Lawson's mother, he approved of the plea deal before his stepfather took it. When speaking with The Kingsport Times, he explained that Bryan Steven Lawson's greatest life sentence will be his guilt.
"When he is released, he will have to live with that and live with the guilt for the rest of his life. I think that’s punishment enough," he said at the time of his former stepdad's sentencing.
A film crew for A&E covered the months leading up to Bryan Steven Lawson's plea deal, and his story will be one of seven chronicled in the new show.
Accused: Guilty or Innocent airs on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on A&E.