Self-Defense Ruled In Case Where Central Student Was Killed

Criminal Homicide Count Dismissed Against Miller

Friday, October 17, 2008
James Bryan Miller, right, with attorney Bud Vincent
James Bryan Miller, right, with attorney Bud Vincent

A criminal homicide charge was dismissed Friday morning against James Bryan Miller in the case in which a Central High School student was killed in a home invasion at Summit.

General Sessions Court Judge Bob Moon said, "I cannot imagine a case where there is more justification for taking a life."

Isaac Robinson was killed in the incident on Oct. 3 at a trailer at 3933 Pattentown Road.

County Det. Ed Merritt said Miller would likely have not faced any charges had he not fled the scene. He was later arrested in Whitfield County, Ga.

Det. Merritt said the incident involved a home invasion carried out by Robinson, Michael Shadden and a third person who is still being sought.

He said Miller was at the residence with Jamie Schultz, Jeff Duckworth and Kaitlin Ezell. He said Miller was on a love seat with Ms. Schultz near the front wall of the trailer when they heard pit bulls barking outside. He said Miller looked out and could see under a night light that three people were approaching the trailer. He could see that they were wearing hoodies and masks and one had a shotgun, it was stated.

Det. Merritt said Miller went for a nearby gun and began firing as soon as the trio forced their way inside.

Robinson later died from his wounds after being taken to Parkridge Hospital. Shadden was shot in the back and was interviewed by police after he went to Erlanger Hospital for treatment of his wound. The third person was not hit by the flying bullets.

Shadden at first told police he and Robinson were shot by two black males in Brainerd.

Det. Merritt said officers then began getting information that the shooting actually took place at the trailer on Pattentown Road.

He said a search warrant was obtained for that residence. There was no one home when officers arrived. He said a shotgun was found in leaves about a hundred yards from the trailer.

The incident happened between midnight and 1 a.m. on a Friday morning.

Det. Merritt said Shadden had been involved in a similar home invasion at the same trailer on Sept. 20.

He said in that incident Shadden went in with a gun and shot an individual in the trailer. He said those inside jumped Shadden and beat him up.

That incident happened just after 3 a.m., and there were five people in the trailer at the time.

The detective said Shadden will be facing charges in connection with both incidents.

Det. Merritt said Shadden later told authorities he went to the trailer on Oct. 3 with Robinson and the third person "to buy some weed."

A warrant in the case says the trailer is a known drug house.

Miller was represented by attorney Bud Vincent.

In dismissing the murder charge against Miller, Judge Moon cited a Tennessee statute that permits a person to use deadly force in their own home, is not conducting any unlawful activity and who is in reasonable fear of death or great bodily injury.

Judge Moon said, "The state of Tennessee follows what is commonly referred to as the 'True Man Doctrine,' which means that a person is not required to 'retreat to the wall' when attacked, but can stand their ground and defend themselves using appropriate force under limited and specific situations."

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