A local Connersville man was featured in a video on Fox 59 news last night and can be seen below. Colton Collier, who was paralyzed from a gunshot wound to the neck on August 21, 2011, is featured in the video which shows new treatments being used for paralysis in Indianapolis.
A 30-year-old Connersville man, Michael Paxson, was found not guilty of attempted murder last August. According to the news-examiner story (below the video) Paxton, after retrieving a rifle from his residence, fired a gunshot at Collier’s vehicle as it was leaving the area. Many local residence are still outraged by the verdict.
(Video begins after a short Fox59 commercial)
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Below is a Connersville News-Examiner story published Thursday, August 16
Trial goes to jury today
Testimony ended Wednesday in the trial of the man charged with attempted murder for a shooting in the Wellsview addition.
Attorneys for the accused man, Michael S. Paxson, and the state are scheduled to give their closing statements this morning before the case is handed over to the 12-member jury for a decision. The jury has been hearing the trial in Fayette Circuit Court since Tuesday morning. Court is expected to resume at 8:30 a.m.
Paxson, 31, is charged with attempted murder for shooting Colton Collier, now 20, in the early morning of Aug. 21, 2011. Collier and his self-described best friend, Michael Sherwood, gave their version of events Tuesday. Paxson testified Wednesday afternoon, the last person called as a witness.
Paxson’s version of events differs from Collier’s and Sherwood’s. All three said that Paxson had arrived at his mother’s home, 2842 S. Short Drive, at about 2:30 a.m. Collier and Sherwood were sitting in a car in the driveway there. Collier was talking to an ex-girlfriend, who was standing outside of the car.
Collier and Sherwood said Paxson and Collier had gotten into a discussion about their cars and that Paxson asked Collier if he wanted to race. Collier refused. Then, they say, Paxson told Collier to leave and reached into the car and hit Collier several times in the face. Collier said he then hit Paxson in the face.
In his testimony, Paxson said he had asked Collier who they were and why they were parked in his mother’s driveway. They discussed their cars and, he said, Collier got smart with him. “I said I don’t need this kind of trouble” and told them to leave. Ten to 15 seconds later when Collier made no attempt to start the car, he reached into the car with his left hand to grab Collier. Paxson said it would have been impossible for him to hit Collier in the face because the car’s door pillar was in the way.
Paxson said Collier hit him in the face. Collier and Sherwood appeared to be getting out of the car. They said Paxson threatened them as he was walking away.
Paxson said he went inside his mother’s home and found he was bleeding from a cut on his face. He said he became concerned that Collier and Sherwood might follow him into the house, where his mother and sister were asleep. He went to his home, about 250 feet away at 2281 Wellsview Road, got his .17-caliber rifle and returned.
Then, he walked up to the driver’s side of Collier’s car and put the rifle butt into the window, hitting Collier with it. He again told Collier to leave.
Collier and Sherwood had testified that Paxson put the rifle barrel into the car and hit Collier with it.
Collier started the car. Paxson said he kicked the car door before the car started to move. Collier and Sherwood said Paxson’s kick came after the car began moving.
Paxson said that he stood with the rifle about where Collier’s car had been. When the car left the driveway, Paxson said he was holding the rifle at waist level and fired it without aiming. He said he was about 35 feet from the car.
Collier and Sherwood had said Paxson had followed the car and had aimed the rifle through the passenger side window, where Sherwood was sitting.
That shot hit Collier in the lower right neck.
Paxson said he fired a second shot “in their direction” when the car was about 70 feet from him. That shot left a hole in the trunk lid but did not get into the passenger compartment, according to sheriff’s Det. Michele Dudley, who testified that she examined the car.
Demkovich repeatedly asked Paxson whether he intended to kill or hurt anyone when he fired the gun. Dabbing at his eyes with a tissue, Paxson said he had not intended to hurt anyone. Rather, he was “trying to reinforce the fact that they should leave.”
Collier’s wound proved serious. A paramedic testified Tuesday that he’d inserted a breathing tube before Collier was taken to Fayette Regional Health Center. The paramedic, Troy Gibbs, said the wound had been serious enough that he had wanted Collier taken to a Level 1 trauma center by helicopter but air ambulances weren’t flying because of the weather.
Collier went by ambulance from Fayette Regional to an Indianapolis hospital. Collier is paralyzed and came to court in a wheelchair.
Wednesday had started with the jury watching a videotape of an interview that Dudley conducted with Paxson about five hours after the Aug. 21, 2011, incident.
The tape had been shown to the jury Tuesday evening but some jury members had said they had trouble hearing it in open court. Wednesday’s showing was in the smaller jury room, which has better acoustics.
Prior to calling witnesses for Paxson, Demkovich had asked the court for a directed verdict that would have dismissed the attempted murder charge, saying the prosecution did not prove its case.
Demkovich had said in his opening that Paxson did not intend to wound or kill anyone when he discharged his rifle.
Proof of the intent to kill someone is required for a conviction on attempted murder.
Deputy prosecutor Bette Jo Jones, who is leading the case against Paxson, argued that the law holds that Paxson showed his intention to kill or seriously hurt someone simply by his use of the rifle.
Circuit Judge Beth A. Butsch ruled that the jury will be allowed to decide Paxson’s guilt. Butsch said she would have stopped the trial and ruled in Paxson’s favor, “If this were so clear cut that I could rule there was a lack of evidence.”
Following that ruling, made while the jury was out of the courtroom, Demokovich presented 10 character witnesses for Paxson.
He asked each for their evaluation of Paxson’s truthfulness and peacefulness. Friends, family members, and business customers, each testified that he is honest and none had ever witnessed him lose his temper or become violent.
Demkovich had another three character witnesses but Butsch refused to allow them to testify for the jury since she had limited Demkovich to 10 in a pre-trial order.