PRINCETON — A jury deliberated for only about 30 minutes before finding a Princeton man not guilty on all charges related to a May 13 shooting death.
Thomas Shine Jr., 21, of Old Pisgah Road was charged with second-degree murder and wanton endangerment in the death of Bailey Dickerson, 18, also of Princeton.
Before Mercer County Circuit Court Judge Derek Swope sent the case to an all-male jury for deliberation, Shine testified and Prosecuting Attorney George Sitler and defense attorney Joe Harvey presented closing arguments.
Dickerson was behind the wheel of an SUV parked on Toni Lane beside the Shine residence that afternoon, on Mother’s Day. After he was shot, the SUV sped down the lane and crashed into a garage. A juvenile passenger was inside the vehicle with Dickerson.
The shooting took place after an altercation between Dickerson and members of Shine’s family, including his mother, Katrina Shine, who, witnesses said, was struck in the face by Dickerson.
The incident started over social media exchanges between a friend of Dickerson’s and Shine’s sister.
In his testimony Wednesday, Shine said he was working in the garage when he heard tires screech and walked outside to see that was happening. He then witnessed the altercation between Dickerson and his mother, with his mother being hit and at that point he drew his weapon, a firearm he was carrying in a holster on his side.
“A man hit my mother and I did not know who he was,” Shine testified, adding that when he pulled his firearm he told Dickerson to stop.
Shine said he heard Dickerson then say he “had something, but I did not catch all of that.”
Dickerson then went to his car and got inside, and, Shine said, “leaned down and reached” under the console.
“When he came up, I fired,” he said, adding that he thought Dickerson was getting something from under the seat.
Shine said he had never met Dickerson and had no ill intent toward him, that he was protecting his family when he fired through the passenger side window, above the juvenile sitting there.
Thomas Shine Sr. was standing in front of Dickerson’s SUV on Toni Lane, which intersects with Old Pisgah Road, and his son said he thought he may be in danger as well.
Shine Jr. said he did not intend to kill him.
“I feared for my life,” he said.
No weapon was found in Dickerson’s SUV.
During closing arguments, Sitler said when Shine was initially interviewed after the incident he did not mention that he thought Dickerson had something or that he saw him reaching under the console.
The car was not moving so there was “no indication” that Shine Sr. was in danger either, he added.
Sitler said “bad decisions” were made by many people on that day, including Dickerson showing up on the scene responding to “drama” on social media.
“Bailey Dickerson had no business there,” Sitler said, adding that the altercation should never have happened.
But he also said Shine had other options, including calling the police.
“Whatever happened, it looked like he (Dickerson) was leaving, not making an imminent threat that could be avoided only by using deadly force,” Sitler said.
The incident did not require deadly force, he said, and Shine fired “intentionally and unlawfully,” twice over the head of a 15-year-old girl. “It was an intentional attack and put her in danger.”
Sitler said there was no evidence a firearm was in the vehicle and Dickerson was “getting out of there while the getting was good. At the point he was killed, he was leaving. Shine was not going to allow that.”
The shooting, he said, was not justifiable or reasonable under the circumstances.
Harvey told jurors the question is, what is reasonable and what is not reasonable.
It was a situation where the Shine family was being reasonable, minding their own business at a Mother’s Day cookout, he said.
In the meantime, Dickerson’s friend was texting a girl and gets mad, he said, and “for some reason” Dickerson decided to get involved and “started running his mouth,” wanting a confrontation.
They then drove to the Shine residence with the juvenile female riding along and, witnesses said, had a tire iron and pipe wrench when they exited the vehicle at the Shine residence. Those two items were found across the road.
“You don’t just slam on brakes, grab a tire iron and his buddy grabs a pipe wrench,” he said. “You are there to hurt people.”
Harvey said Dickerson hit Shine’s mother first as she put her palms into the air to protect herself. “Tommy Shine comes around and sees Bailey punching his mother.”
Dickerson goes to his car, but there was no indication he was leaving, he said.
“Getting in the car and leaving would have been a reasonable choice, but at what point did Bailey Dickerson make any reasonable choice?” Harvey said. “Every time, when confronted with something Bailey didn’t like he exacerbated the situation.”
“He would have been leaving him (Dickerson’s friend who was still in the yard) behind,” he added. “You don’t think he would’ve yelled at his buddy, ‘Let’s get the hell out of here?”
Harvey said there was no evidence he was leaving, including conflicting testimony about when the car was actually started. The female juvenile had testified it was not started until after he was shot.
Shine had little time to process what was happening, Harvey said, and he had reason to believe his family was in danger of bodily harm or death.
Harvey said Shine could have pulled the trigger earlier, but “something happened (in the car) that changed the situation.”
It was not an anger issue, he said, because Shine was already angry.
“Tommy feared for his family’s life,” he said, adding that other things could have been done in the situation, “but these decisions are made in an instant.”
Swope told the jurors they could consider second-degree murder or voluntary manslaughter, and wanton endangerment or brandishing.
Jurors decided Shine was not guilty of any of those charges.
“We felt we had a strong case the whole time,” Harvey said after the verdict.
Sitler said after the verdict it was a matter of whether the jury believed the use of deadly force was justifiable under the circumstances.
“The jury has spoken,” he said.
— Contact Charles Boothe at email@example.com.