ELKO — An Elko man who thought he had just sold two toilets for $20 profit says he was stabbed in the hip by the potential buyer.
Trial began Tuesday for 47-year-old Michael Scott Hoover on charges of battery with the use of a deadly weapon and burglary.
Victim Todd Gunnels testified that on a December 2011 evening, he picked up two discarded toilets from local plumbing and mechanical business Plumb Line Inc. to turn around and sell.
Deputy District Attorney Mark Mills described Gunnels’ former Grant Court yard as a “24/7-type yard sale.” Gunnels had only unloaded one toilet from his truck that night before Hoover drove up.
As Hoover approached the victim, Gunnels said he heard a panicked woman’s voice say, “Don’t do it, Mike.” Gunnels never saw a woman with Hoover, however.
Hoover immediately inquired about the toilets and soon the two acquaintances settled on a price of $20 for the pair, Gunnels said.
“He said it was a done deal, so I loaded one into his truck,” Gunnels said. It was dark and the victim’s yard faced a poorly lit alley. Hoover said he was having trouble determining the denomination of his money and suggested they go into Gunnels’ home so he could see inside his wallet better.
Inside the home Hoover began talking about a woman named Jennifer, whom Gunnels had dated in the past and Hoover was dating at the time.
“He started accusing me … he heard I was paid $50 to hit her,” Gunnels said. The victim was unsure if Hoover meant “hit” as a sexual euphemism or if he was being accused of striking the woman. In any event, Gunnels denied receiving money to do anything to Jennifer.
Gunnels told Hoover it was time for him to leave.
“I was kind of getting in defense mode, and the next thing I know he whipped out — what I can only describe as — the biggest knife I’ve ever seen,” Gunnels said.
Hoover lunged toward the victim, according to testimony. The two wrestled for a moment, then Hoover stabbed Gunnels in the lower left abdomen near his hip.
“He started pacing back and forth,” Gunnels said. “Then he stopped with his back to me and said, ‘Are you going to call the cops?’ … Then I said, ‘For what?’ … He just said, ‘That’s what I thought,’ and headed out the door.”
Gunnels told the court he examined his wound then called the cops.
Police found Hoover at his home, a knife in the cab of his truck and a toilet in the truck bed.
Defense counsel Sherburne Macfarlan III pointed out variations in Gunnels’ story, during cross examination. He asked about his original statements to police and his account given at a preliminary hearing in justice court, which differed in detail, such as where he was when Hoover drove to his lawn.
Gunnels explained the discrepancies were probably because he was in a state of duress that night, having just been stabbed.
The trial will resume 9 a.m. today in Elko District Court with Judge Nancy Porter presiding.