A Texas father has not been arrested and is unlikely to face charges after he beat a man to death for trying to molest his 4-year-old daughter at their rural ranch, authorities said Monday.
Lavaca County Sheriff Micah Harmon said the father, whose name has not been released, said no evidence so far has led investigators to doubt his story.
"There doesn't appear to be any reason other than what he told us," Harmon said.
Harmon described the man as "very remorseful" after the Saturday killing.
"I don't think it was his intent for the man to die," Harmon told the Victoria Advocate. The man's grandfather also said his son was "sorry" and the killing was an "accident."
Harmon said the victim was a 47-year-old man from Gonazles with no apparent prior criminal history. His name continued to be withheld Monday because authorities still hadn't tracked down any of his family.
The victim was an "acquaintance" of the father who had come to help care for some horses, Harmon said. He did not know how long the two men may have known each other. The girl was taken to a hospital to be examined and has since been released, Harmon said.
The father called police late Saturday afternoon and told them he attacked a man caught trying to sexually assault his daughter, Harmon said. The alleged attack happened near a barn where some horses were being kept.
"In the course of trying to get her away from him, and protect her, he struck the subject several times in the head and the subject died," Harmon said.
Harmon said a grand jury will decide what, if any, charges the father will face. No charges have yet been filed.
The victim's body was sent to the Travis County medical examiner for an autopsy.
The ranch near Shiner is about 130 miles east of Houston. Killings are rare in rural Lavaca County: Harmon said his office has only investigated six since in his eight years as sheriff.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.