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State v. Schipp

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

March 7, 2018


          Assigned on Briefs June 6, 2017

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Putnam County No. 2015-CR-421 Gary McKenzie, Judge

         Defendant, Michael Kevin Schipp, was convicted of one count of burglary of an automobile and one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and received a total effective sentence of fifteen years. On appeal, Defendant argues that the trial court erred in failing to instruct the jury on self-defense with regard to his aggravated assault conviction. After a thorough review of the record and relevant authorities, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgments of the Criminal Court Affirmed

          Craig P. Fickling, District Public Defender, and L. Scott Grissom, Assistant Public Defender, for the appellant, Michael Kevin Schipp.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Senior Counsel; Bryant C. Dunaway, District Attorney General; and Victor Gernt, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Thomas T. Woodall, P.J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Norma McGee Ogle and Robert W. Wedemeyer, JJ., joined.




         In May of 2015, Marshall Thurman and Chase Eldridge lived in a fraternity house near the campus of Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville, Tennessee. In the early morning hours of May 19, 2015, they, along with their friend Cameron Carroll, were in the front room of the house drinking and watching a movie when they heard a scream. The three men went outside and walked around to investigate the source of the scream. Having not seen or heard anything else, the men walked back toward the fraternity house. Mr. Thurman then heard glass breaking and took off running toward the back of the house. On the street directly behind the house, Mr. Thurman saw a man reaching inside the front passenger window of Mr. Eldridge's vehicle. Mr. Thurman knew it was not Mr. Eldridge reaching into the car because Mr. Eldridge was still behind him. Mr. Thurman described the man as bald, around five feet ten inches tall, and wearing a red and white striped rugby-style shirt.

         Mr. Thurman, infuriated, ran up and tackled the man to prevent him from stealing anything from the car. Mr. Thurman, who was six feet three inches tall and weighed 245 pounds, did not say anything to the man as he tackled him at a full sprint. Mr. Thurman fell to the ground away from the car; he did not land on top of the man. The man got up and did not try to run away but turned and engaged Mr. Thurman in a fight. The man began throwing punches at Mr. Thurman, which he dodged or blocked. Mr. Thurman denied throwing any punches. The man then pulled out a folding knife and opened it. The man stating that he had a knife was the only communication between the two during the confrontation. The man then stabbed Mr. Thurman on the left side underneath his arm, puncturing Mr. Thurman's lung. Mr. Thurman admitted that he punched the man at the same moment that the man stabbed him. Mr. Thurman initially remained on his feet but then fell to the ground. The man then punched Mr. Thurman in the head before running off. Mr. Thurman walked to the hospital where he spoke to police. Mr. Thurman was eventually transported to Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville and spent two days in the hospital.

         Mr. Eldridge testified that as he and Mr. Thurman walked back toward the fraternity house after unsuccessfully searching for the source of the scream, Mr. Thurman suddenly took off running. Mr. Eldridge did not think anything of it and continued walking in the same direction as Mr. Thurman had gone. When Mr. Eldridge reached the driveway of the fraternity house and looked into the backyard, he saw Mr. Thurman in the middle of the street engaged in a fight with a bald, white man of average height wearing a red and white striped rugby-style shirt. The two men were "squared up to each other like in a fighting posture, and they both just kind of swung at each other, and they both hit each other." Mr. Eldridge ran toward the pair as they were swinging at each other. Mr. Eldridge testified that it appeared that Mr. Thurman got hit in the ribcage and the other man got hit in the face. Mr. Thurman then fell, and the other man ran off down the street. Mr. Eldridge walked with Mr. Thurman to the hospital. Mr. Thurman stated that he had been stabbed and was clutching the side of his chest.

         After speaking with the police at the hospital, Mr. Eldridge was told to return to the parking lot behind the fraternity house because his car had been broken into, which Mr. Eldridge did not know at that time. Mr. Eldridge testified that the front passenger side window was "smashed" and that there was broken glass both inside the car and in the parking lot. Mr. Eldridge's car, which was locked, contained several plastic totes filled with his belongings as well as an overnight bag. The bag, which had been in the backseat prior to this incident, was in the front passenger seat of the car on top of the broken glass that was in the seat. Mr. Eldridge did not give anyone permission to break the window or enter the vehicle.

         Officer David Harris of the Cookeville Police Department responded to the hospital and obtained a description of the suspect, which he relayed to other officers. Defendant was developed as a suspect. Officer Harris, Officer Mike Herrick, and Detective Tammy Goolsby arrived at an address associated with Defendant that was just down the street from the scene of the incident. Detective Goolsby transported Defendant to the Cookeville Police Department where he gave a statement claiming to have been asleep prior to the police arriving at the residence. During a search of the residence, a striped rugby-style shirt was discovered in a laundry basket. The shirt was damp while the other clothes in the basket were dry; Officer Harris noted that there was a misting rain that day. The shirt also had ...

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