News and Tribune

January 29, 2013

Assault sentencing results in $100,000 restitution

Jeff man to pay victim of road-rage incident

By GARY POPP
gary.popp@newsandtribune.com

JEFFERSONVILLE — A Jeffersonville man charged in a 2010 road-rage incident on East 10th Street was sentenced Monday in Clark County Circuit Court No. 4.

Michael Shelby, 22, of 3411 Alexander Court, who was originally charged with B felony aggravated battery, was sentenced to three years probation through a plea agreement.

A term of the probation requires Shelby to pay $100,000 restitution to the victim in $500 monthly installments.

Shelby was arrested following the attack of Michael Cullum after a roadway altercation that took place about 11:30 p.m. Nov. 1, 2010.

The incident resulted in Michael Cullum being severely beaten and taken to University of Louisville Hospital for a head injury and severe swelling to his face and head.

After he was submitted for treatment, Jeffersonville police were notified by hospital staff that Cullum suffered a traumatic brain bleed, a broken nose and several broken teeth. Hospital personnel had placed a plastic tube in his trachea to obtain an open airway and put him into a medically induced coma.

During the sentencing hearing in Judge Vicki Carmichael’s court, Shelby appeared with his attorney, Brad Jacobs.

“With what he was facing — we knocked a B felony down to misdemeanors and just probation — so, [Shelby] was pretty happy with the way it turned out,” Jacobs said after the hearing.

Jacobs said that Heather Cullum, the victim’s wife, has said that she realized a full $100,000  restitution is not possible, but she wanted Shelby to make the best effort he could.

Clark County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Jeremy Mull, who represented the state during the proceeding, disregarded the notion that the full payment of $100,000 may not be paid.

“My position will be that if [Shelby] doesn’t pay that at the end of three years, probation will be extended until he pays that off,” Mull said. “If he doesn’t pay [the full $100,000] we will try to get his probation revoked. I think I have legal support to request that the judge extend probation until all that is paid. So, that will be my intention.”

He said that offering a plea was appropriate because Michael Cullum, through injuries he sustained during the incident, has suffered memory loss, which would make prosecution during a trial difficult.

“This [resolution] is what the victim wanted,” Mull said. “These people are out of a lot of money. They have medical debts and bills that are going to weigh them down for years to come, and their main concern in this case is to get some of this money back.” 

Mull said Shelby would likely have served two to three years in the Indiana Department of Correction, with no restitution, had he been convicted of the battery charge.

Mull added that he has learned through his experience that for some offenders, paying back a large restitution is worse than jail time.

Landers, who was charged as a adult for his involvement in the incident, pled guilty to aggravated battery, class B felony, in 2011. 

He received a sentenced of two years imprisonment with six years probation to serve on his release. 

 

BACKGROUND

At the time of the incident Shelby was driving a 1995 Chevrolet Blazer following a 1994 Plymouth Acclaim driven by Heather Cullum.

Then-17-year-old Dakota Landers was in the passenger seat of Shelby’s Chevrolet, and Matthew Cullum was in the passenger seat of the Plymouth.

Both Shelby and Heather Cullum gave accounts to police that both vehicle were traveling east on 10th Street, and that Heather Cullum had begun to suddenly brake her vehicle. Heather said that she slowed down because the vehicle was overheating.

Shelby then switched lanes, pulled beside Cullums’ vehicle and cursed at her and gave her the middle finger.

Their accounts of what transpired from that point, begin to diverge.

Each said the other followed their vehicle into a business’ parking lot on Sharon Drive where Shelby and Landers would beat Michael Cullum.

After the assault took place, Heather Cullum was able to get the license plate number of Shelby’s vehicle before it drove out of sight.

Police used the information to identify Shelby as the owner of the Chevrolet. The vehicle was located about 3:45 a.m. in the parking lot of Armstrong Farms apartment complex near Veterans Parkway.

Officers reported waiting about 20 minutes before the vehicle left the parking lot, and a traffic stop was made.

Shelby was behind the wheel of the vehicle, at which time he told officers that he had been involved in a fight.

He was then taken to police headquarters, questioned about the incident and charged with battery. He would later post a $2,500 bond in January 2011.