Blackwell on trial for attempted murder

Friday, January 30, 2015

By Ivory Riner and Poppy Hall

Staff Writers

A Lewisburg man is finally on trial this week, almost a year and a half after being accused of leaving another man for dead, bleeding from multiple stab wounds.

Scotty W. Blackwell, 34, formerly of Bivins Road, is charged with the attempted murder of Michael R. Bass of Saint Anne Street at about 1:30 a.m. Aug. 25, 2013.

Jury selection took place Monday, and the prosecution and defense gave their opening statements Tuesday morning.

According to Assistant District Attorney Eddie Barnard's opening statement, Blackwell and his mother Lisa Morris, who Bass had a sexual relationship with in the past, owed Bass money. Bass sued to get his money back and a settlement was reached, with Morris agreeing to pay him back little by little.

On the night in question, Bass allegedly answered a knock on his door and found Blackwell standing there.

Blackwell came into the house and jumped on top of Bass, said Barnard, and started stabbing him in the abdomen and then in the throat. Bass's neighbors, the Alvarez family, came to his aid after they heard him screaming for help. Blackwell left the scene in his truck after the family called 911, but wrecked moments later by crashing into house on Glenn Avenue.

Opening for the defense, attorney David McKenzie said Blackwell's injuries were much worse than Bass's.

"Blackwell had previously been at the store trying to buy alcohol. The surveillance camera proves that he was drunker than a skunk, but he was a happy drunk. The video shows you that he was complaining to the employees of the store that he couldn't buy alcohol after midnight. After his rant, he goes outside and buys gas," McKenzie said, "He wasn't at the store to buy a gun, he simply wasn't out looking for trouble."

Tuesday afternoon Bass was called to the stand as the first witness for the prosecution.

Barnard went to great lengths to establish for the jury Bass's actions leading up to the fateful moment when he opened his door to find Blackwell outside. Bass testified he'd spent the entire evening alone in his house alternately playing guitar, working on his computer and watching television.

In the early morning hours, Bass heard an unusual rustling noise coming from his carport, so he turned on the exterior light and looked out. Seeing Blackwell, Bass said he opened the door and Blackwell allegedly said he had run out of gas. Bass said he told Blackwell to help himself to the gas can he had for his lawnmower. He said he closed and locked the door and went back to what he was doing on the computer.

About 10 minutes later Bass said he heard more strange sounds and once again he opened his door to see Blackwell.

"Scotty, what do you need?" Bass said he asked.

Bass said Blackwell did not answer so he turned to go back inside. He said the next thing he remembers is waking up on the floor inside his house after being knocked out. Confused and groggy, having no idea what had just happened but "feeling wetness coming out of his head" Bass said he felt around and found four deep gashes.

At this point, Bass said Blackwell was standing in his kitchen. Still on the ground and confused Bass said he turned to Blackwell and said, "You're going to have to take me to the hospital, something's wrong."

"Did you realize what was happening?" asked Barnard.

"I looked back up and saw Scotty had a knife in his hand. All I could see was the blade," said Bass, realizing he had been attacked.

Trying to push himself up off the ground, Bass said he asked Blackwell, "Scotty, why are you attacking me?"

At this point, Bass said, Blackwell jumped on him, straddling him as he proceeded to stab him in the chest and stomach area.

Bass said he was finally able to get himself up and out of the house.

"Why?" asked Barnard.

"I knew if I didn't get out he was going to kill me!" answered Bass.

He said he managed to stagger as far as the driveway before collapsing again and starting to yell for help. Bass said Blackwell then straddled him again and proceeded to stab him about the neck and throat. Bass said that he had no energy and felt himself getting weaker and weaker.

"What was going on in your mind?" asked Barnard.

"Is this the way I'm going to die?" replied Bass.

Bass said Blackwell was holding his head to the ground with one hand and attempting to slit his throat.

"Quit fighting, I want to get this over with," Bass remembered Blackwell saying to him.

Bass said he vaguely remembers the police showing up. He said he had no recollection of the EMTs arriving or being in the ambulance. He said he regained consciousness twice; once in the helicopter as he was flown to Nashville and then again as he arrived at the hospital.

Bass spent a day and a half in Vanderbilt. He told the jury that he could not drive for three months, and it was not until three weeks after the incident that his memory returned and he was able to piece together the events. He said he remembered Blackwell saying while he was stabbing him in the house, "You sued my mama; now she can't make no money."

Bass said he is still suffering from the attack, experiencing dizziness, vertigo and nausea if he tilts his head a certain way, in spite of spending 12 weeks at a dizziness and balance clinic.

The prosecution ended its questioning of Bass after establishing that Bass had not been drinking that night. He kept alcohol in his house for guests, but he had stopped drinking himself due to stomach issues.

In response to the questioning, Bass told jury he did not invite Blackwell to his house that night; he did not give Blackwell anything to drink; and he did not ask Blackwell to have sex with him or try and pay for sex, as Blackwell reportedly said to the police.

Cross examination of Bass began Wednesday morning.

McKenzie tried to cast doubt on Bass's memory of the day leading up to the moment of attack. The attorney pointed out Bass's memory was extremely precise about all the details of that day.

Bass explained having lost all recollection of that night for three weeks after the incident, he'd made it a point to write down his memories of that day as they came back to him,

McKenzie asked Bass if he might have run into Blackwell earlier in the day or invited Blackwell back to the house later in the day for a drink. Bass emphatically denied both.

McKenzie also questioned Bass about the moments leading up to the assault. Bass was unwavering on his account of the events. When pressed for details, he could not explain how Blackwell closed the five-foot distance between them and had been able to hit him on the back of the head. Or how his blood had gotten to the opposite side of the kitchen from where he claimed to have regained consciousness.

Bass explained that he remembers nothing except waking up on the floor. He said one of the blows to the back of his head had actually fractured his skull.

As an explanation for the blood Bass said, "I might have been knocked about the whole kitchen. I can only tell you what I remember."

The trial continued as the Tribune went to press on Thursday, and could be lengthy since Barnard said he had 15-20 witnesses for the prosecution.