2009-10-15 / Front Page

Shives Guilty Of Attempted Murder

Jury deliberates 15 minutes, renders verdict
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz STAFF WRITER

An on again, off again 14-year relationship between a Fulton County couple came to a screeching halt on September 17, 2008, when an alleged scare tactic resulted in two bullets becoming lodged in the driver’s side door of the woman’s moving vehicle.

Last Wednesday the woman publicly revealed details of not only her tumultuous relationship with Michael Frederick Shives Sr., but also of her struggle to move on with life after a series of breakups and how it all came to a finale along a stretch of Route 522 just north of Webster Mills.

Testimony and statements given by both the commonwealth and defense showed Shives pulled alongside the woman’s northbound Ford Explorer at slightly before 10 p.m. Two bullets from a 357 Taurus revolver were fired by Shives’ into the center and near the key latch of the victim’s driver’s side door, shattering the window.

Shives, reports indicate, continued northward without stopping and later returned home after purchasing cigarettes. The female victim, who had heard two loud noises but was unsure as to what had caused it, drove to a nearby residence where her employer and state police investigators were alerted. She was not injured.

During the two-day criminal trial presided over by Judge Douglas Herman the woman stated that up until the late night shooting, Shives would call her daily, and they would stay at one another’s homes. She had also previously determined that Shives had begun dating another woman since their most recent break-up.

She noted she saw him the day prior to the attempted murder and even spoke to him repeatedly over the phone the day of the incident. She told the court she “thought their relationship was ok.”

The victim read aloud for the court several notes she penned for Shives in the fall of November 2007 that went into detail about her feelings for him and how she wanted to renew their relationship. In turn, the woman also was asked to read from cards and notebook penned by Shives that contained what defense attorney Chris Sheffield termed “incoherent ramblings.”

The notebook touched on the woman’s alleged promiscuity, drugs and drinking and having people “bumped off.” He also tried connecting the woman to health issues he suffers as well as similar issues his father, son and neighbor are inflicted with. Shives goes on in the notebook to make physical threats against the woman he was dating.

The notebook was discovered by the woman at Shives’ home at 1458 East Pittman Road, Big Cove Tannery, just prior to the attempted murder. It was not given to Fulton County District Attorney Travis Kendall until several months later.

In addition to testimony from the victim, others testifying on the behalf of the commonwealth were state police officers Trooper Richard Cutchall, Cpl. John Lawler, Cpl. William Baker and Trooper Michael Campagna. The officers touched on a variety of issues such as the location of shattered window glass on the roadway, the location and condition of bullet jackets and interviews conducting following the incident. The defense did not offer any testimony during the trial.

In his closing statements, defense attorney Sheffield stated the commonwealth’s evidence clearly mirrored what Shives revealed to state police during his interview. Sheffield told the jury to hold Shives responsible for what he did, but pointed out there was no indication by the commonwealth’s evidence that he was trying to harm the woman.

“If he had wanted to kill or harm her, he would have shot all six shells ... He would have done something more ...,” said Sheffield. “Why did this happen? Sometime in June or July she found out he (Shives) had a new girlfriend. She was persistent ... She wanted Mike. She wants to be loved, but Mike didn’t want to love her in that way.”

District Attorney Kendall countered that the case revolved around “intent.” Kendall referenced intent through Shives lying in wait for the woman along Route 928, the placement of the bullets and the notebook excerpts that detailed reasons why she deserved to die.

Kendall stated maybe the notebook ramblings were induced by medication, but no evidence was given to support this. Kendall added possibly the medication reportedly taken by Shives prompted the truthfulness about his feelings.

Following closing statements, the jury deliberated for just 15 minutes before rendering a guilty verdict on all five charges – criminal attempt murder, aggravated assault, possession of an instrument of crime, simple assault and reckless endangerment.

Shives remains free on bail until sentencing proceedings at 9 a.m. on December 29. Judge Herman noted the charges of criminal attempted murder and aggravated assault each carry a maximum sentence of 20 years, while the maximum penalty for each of the remaining three charges ranges from two to five years.

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