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William Matthew Harvey

Before the bar brawl off Hixson Pike, Shawn Russell took four sips of a Miller Lite beer. The men he would end up fighting were on their first and second beers.

Danielle Harvey, meanwhile, had been bartending for 15 years, 13 of them legally, and seen a lot of fights. She understood the rhythm of fists, the troughs and peaks of violence, she told attorneys Thursday in Hamilton County General Sessions Court.

And on April 5 at Rumors Bar, she said, Shawn Russell and Johnathan Paul Harvey were exchanging words and pushing each other toward a fight. At one point, Johnathan Harvey gestured at Russell as he strode across the bar room. That tension, she said, collapsed into a full-on brawl that ended with another man, William Matthew Harvey, 25, fatally stabbing Russell.

After hearing the evidence, Judge Clarence Shattuck sent William Matthew Harvey to the grand jury. There, jurors will decide whether to return an indictment on his voluntary manslaughter charge.

"I understand your argument," Shattuck said to Ben McGowan, the attorney representing William Matthew Harvey, "and it's going to be a very interesting case to try."

The violence was obvious, but unpacking the buildup seemed more difficult.

Russell's girlfriend at the time of the stabbing said Johnathan Harvey was yelling at them. She couldn't remember what, exactly, but it unnerved Russell. She remembered him turning and telling another man, "He can say what he wants about him, but he's not going to talk to his girl like this."

Prosecutor Kristen Spires put on footage from that night, showing an enraged Russell, 36, concealing two pieces of a pool cue behind his back. Shrugging off a friend, Russell loped across the bar to a corner where Johnathan Harvey, 27, was standing, and swung the pool cue at his face. Johnathan Harvey dropped immediately.

Next, footage shows, Russell straddled Johnathan Harvey's body, landing several blows to his face and chest. Although the video doesn't clearly show what happened next, Spires said William Matthew Harvey, 25, stabbed Russell once in the heart. William Harvey, Johnathan Harvey and Danielle Harvey are not related, McGowan said.

He argued that his client acted out of self-defense for his friend. An aggravated assault was happening in front of four to five grown men who couldn't stop Russell, McGowan said.

So William Harvey drew a utility knife, unsure of where the violence would end.

Spires countered that William Harvey stabbed Shawn Russell in the heart — not the arms, back or anywhere else.

"That's probable cause of a known killing," she said. "[William Harvey] didn't try any method other than stabbing. He could have used something else."

Hitting back, McGowan said her argument reminded him of officer-involved shootings. People tend to ask, "Why didn't they shoot him somewhere else?" he said.

"It's a rapidly escalating situation," McGowan said. "He has tried the entire evening to stay out of this altercation. But there is one thing that stops it: It is Mr. Harvey hitting one time with the knife. It would be nice to say he should have found the perfect spot."

Contact staff writer Zack Peterson at 423-757-6347 or zpeterson@timesfreepress.com. Follow @zackpeterson918.

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