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Posted on Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 5:30 p.m.

Ypsilanti Township man gets 2 years probation for stabbing man who came at him 'like Bruce Lee'

By John Counts


Earl Stegall

A 68-year-old Ypsilanti Township resident was sentenced Tuesday to serve two years of probation and pay more than $8,000 in restitution to the victim in a May stabbing incident.

Earl Stegall pleaded no contest to charges of assault with a dangerous weapon and possession of a switchblade in June.

Details of the stabbing incident were revealed Tuesday in Judge Donald Shelton's courtroom in the Washtenaw County Trial Court. Tensions between Stegall and the victim had been brewing long before the fight, Stegall said. He told Shelton the victim and a few of his friends tried to jump him a few years ago.

Then on May 16, Stegall took a woman, his second cousin, grocery shopping. When they arrived outside her place of residence on Bagley Avenue in Ypsilanti Township, the male victim was waiting for them, Stegall said.

“He came at me like Bruce Lee, the Kung Fu fighter,” Stegall said. “He hit me in the jaw and knocked off my hat and sunglasses.”

Stegall said he used his “letter opener” to protect himself.

When Shelton first asked Stegall if he had anything to say before sentencing, Stegall only said, “I hold no animosities.”

“You probably shouldn’t after stabbing him three times,” Shelton responded.

The victim, 63, suffered a 10-inch cut in the belly and was also injured on his arm and ankle. He appeared in court, but did not wish to address the judge.

Stegall’s attorney Daniel Geherin said his client is an Army veteran who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder and is on medications for mental health-related issues.

Assistant Washtenaw County Prosecutor Blaine Longsworth pushed for a stiffer sentence of six months in jail.

“This was a violent assault,” he said.

Shelton decided on probation and $8,361 in restitution. Stegall was also ordered not to have any contact with the victim.

“I’m not sure what’s really going on here, but it needs to stop now,” Shelton said.

John Counts covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 11:32 p.m.

I would like to know how he stabbed him in the ankle. Maybe blocking one of those Bruce Lee high kicks?


Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 1:55 a.m.

Bizarre. Men in their 60s fighting in the street. Switchblades are legal in Michigan - if you have only one arm. See MCL 750.226a. I believe that is why they were first made.


Wed, Sep 5, 2012 : 2:36 p.m.

What is the $8000 restitution for? I didn't read anything that the victum had damaged other than his body. Good luck to the victum on collecting it.


Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 1:42 a.m.

I would imagine health care costs, maybe lost time at work.


Wed, Sep 5, 2012 : 12:41 p.m.

The entire Addams family is grateful for the judicial leniency.


Wed, Sep 5, 2012 : 11:35 a.m.

NO KungFu for you.


Wed, Sep 5, 2012 : 3:54 a.m.

Mr. Lincoln, I beg to differ. The quote: "Like Bruce Lee, the Kung Fu fighter," made the whole story. Thank you for including it Mr. Counts. One would imagine that a couple of jabs from Mr. Lee would take a normal man down. Mr. Stegall seems to have good defensive reflexes. A picture of the "letter opener" would have made this article complete. Would like to have some background on the second cousin as well.

Honest Abe

Wed, Sep 5, 2012 : 3:45 a.m.

"You probably shouldn't after stabbing him three times," Shelton responded. Now you go to your room with this 2 years probation and think about what you've done!!

Honest Abe

Wed, Sep 5, 2012 : 3:39 a.m.

John Counts: Was adding the "Like Bruce Lee" really necessary?


Wed, Sep 5, 2012 : 3:24 a.m.

"I'm not sure what's really going on here, but it needs to stop now,' Shelton said" -- when a judge says that - believe him or her. This is why Judge Shelton decided on probation and restitution: because the parties involved had a prior hostile relationship and it was near impossible to determine whether the alleged defender acted in real self defense or had provoked the alleged attack by the other man. The tipping point in the case was that Mr. Stegall was found to be carrying (and using) an illegal weapon. Knives - and particularly switchblades - are considered illegal because only pistols and other firearms are regulated as recognized self defense weapons. There are pragmatic reasons for this distinction. So it appears that Mr. Stegall might have been let off if he'd held a license for a pistol (which apparently he does not) and used that instead of the more concealable and "silent" knife. Asst. Prosecutor Longsworth pushed for a stiffer sentence of six months in jail. -- which at least implies the prosecutor suspected Mr. Stegall had a motive other than self defense when he used his illegal switchblade. Isn't that right, Mr. Counts? ;-)


Wed, Sep 5, 2012 : 2:03 a.m.

WOW!! Teenagers get 4-20 years in Prison for a fake gun this guy stabs someone and gets probation. Wash away county is at it again


Wed, Sep 5, 2012 : 12:43 p.m.

BB gun used in armed robbery does NOT equal a fake gun. It is armed robbery. This guyi was defending himself.


Wed, Sep 5, 2012 : 12:35 a.m.

I guess I'm surprised he didn't fight the charges. If the man was indeed waiting for him and initiated an attack against him, it really seems he could have had a good chance of successfully using Michigan's Stand Your Ground law as defense. If he was not engaged in a crime at the time, the law states they have the right to use deadly force or force other than deadly force if they believe they or another person are at risk of being killed, sexual assaulted, or plain old great bodily harm. Combine that with arguments of PTSD left from the prior alleged assault by this man, and it seems like he could have won a not guilty verdict. Of course, that would rely on his account of the incident being accurate and reasonably verifiable, which is probably a pretty big "if". Not saying I think this law or it's use as a defense would have been right in this case, but since when does "right" factor in to legal defense? From the information given here (which I know is far from complete), it sounds to me like he should have gotten a better lawyer.


Wed, Sep 5, 2012 : 2:54 a.m.

Yeah, I am a little confused. Certainly, different cases here....but this was just in the paper from a woman who defended herself. This guy sounded like he was defending himself as well. " A woman who was accused of stabbing her husband at least twice after he allegedly punched her in the face had three criminal charges against her DISMISSED at a hearing Tuesday. Consuelia Johnson, 37, had been charged with assault with intent to murder, assault with intent to do great bodily harm and assault with a dangerous weapon for the Aug. 18 incident at her home in the 1300 block of Candlewood Lane in Ypsilanti Township. Deputies responded to the home at 3:04 a.m. that day for a report of a domestic incident.


Wed, Sep 5, 2012 : 12:44 a.m.

amlive, I thought that was odd as well.


Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 11:45 p.m.

"Punctuation" Buck??? "Holy Smokes" Cash??? Thanks for "enlightening" me to the problem at hand.


Wed, Sep 5, 2012 : 12:42 a.m.

You're welcome! :-)


Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 9:53 p.m.

I don't find the judges remarks funny at all. It demeans the court and it's processes. How can anyone take the judicial process seriously if that is what is going on in the courtroom.


Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 11:31 p.m.

Oh there is enough seriousness going on in a courtroom to make a person cry.....daily. No problem there. I don't think Judge Sheltons' comment is going to seriously impact the judicial process . Holy smokes..................

Buck Wild

Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 10:48 p.m.

Wit is appropriate in any situation. Decent usage of punctuation is appreciated as well.

Macabre Sunset

Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 9:50 p.m.

Hilarious? Maybe more that Shelton has been watching too much Judge Judy. We don't need Soupy Sales in the black robes, we need someone who upholds the law. Less quips, more jail time for violent offenders.


Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 9:47 p.m.

Stegall said he used his "letter opener" to protect himself. When Shelton first asked Stegall if he had anything to say before sentencing, Stegall only said, "I hold no animosities." "You probably shouldn't after stabbing him three times," Shelton responded. ________________________ Okay this is a serious crime but Judge Sheltons' line was hilarious!