A stabbing was reported at Winters High School on January 30th, 2019 at 3:31 p.m. Police chief Paula Geyer of the Winters Police Department took the report and the case has been sent to the District Attorney’s office for the filing of charges. No arrests were made or charges filed at the time the report was taken even though there were multiple witnesses who gave statements.
The report also states that there is video evidence of some portion of the event, although the district attorney’s office did not release it, citing an ongoing investigation. The police department did release their report, photos of the victim and a possible weapon used in the stabbing.
The individuals involved in the complaint were named in the report but the names of the witnesses were redacted by the police department.
In another turn of events, the original suspect and victim had their roles reversed when another assault report was made with the stabbing suspect alleging assault by the victim. This also was confirmed by witnesses.
The stabbing is aggravated assault and is a 2nd degree felony. The second assault is a Class A misdemeanor, Assault With Injury.
According to the aggravated assault police report, the suspect, Winters High School senior (who has reportedly since withdrawn) Slater Lindley stabbed the victim, high school junior, Maximillian Kelly, with a blunt object after they became involved in a verbal altercation that turned physical. In the report, Geyer states, “Upon arrival, I met with Randy Gartman. Mr. Gartman stated that Maxamillian (sic) Kelly and Slater Lindley got into a physical altercation in the Ag classroom. I met with Mr. Kelly and his guardian, Naomi Soto. Mr. Kelly gave me the following written statement; “Slater started saying “we should have segregation” to me. Dayton and I then go up to Slater and put him in a choke hold, and I couldn’t see it but he used something and the students said that I was bleeding so I went to the teacher.” He added, “and calling me the “N” word.”
Geyer goes on to write, “At the time of the original report, Mr. Kelly and Mrs. Soto did not want to file charges. Mr. Kelly was taken to the NRH Clinic for wound care.”
I interviewed Mrs. Soto and she said that on the day of the stabbing she was already on the way to the school, “Max had been sick and I was going to pick him up to take him to the clinic. When I got there, I saw him holding his back. He told me, “We can’t leave yet,” and gave me a brief description of him and Slater wrestling. The principal had called the police.”
Soto says that originally Max told Geyer, “We were just horse-playing” because he didn’t want to, “get anyone in trouble.” “At that point we needed to get Max to the doctor because he was bleeding.” Kelly was taken to the clinic where Soto says they told her to keep the wound open, “ It was a deep puncture wound and it was about an inch from his spine.” Soto says that she was surprised that Lindley wasn’t arrested at that time, “How does a person stab someone and not get taken into custody, especially at a school. We feel like there may have been some favoritism.”
Soto said that they didn’t ask to file charges at first because they didn’t understand the seriousness of what had happened. At the time they thought it was just horse playing and weren’t aware it was a stabbing, “As the days went by, the police didn’t want to press charges but they have to because we want to.” Kelly’s father didn’t feel like they were being treated right by the police so he contacted a television station in Abilene who ran a brief report on the stabbing in February.
Geyer wrote in the report regarding her interview with Lindley, “I spoke to Mr. Lindley, shortly. Mr. Lindley denied using a knife against Mr. Kelly. Mr. Lindley stated it was a piece of metal. Mr. Lindley stated all the boys had been messing around and using them as fencing swords. I went out to the Ag shop to see what metal they were playing with. I located a metal rod, which belongs in a filing cabinet. It is unknown which rod was used so I photographed the one there for similarity.” Geyer continues, “I obtained copies of the statements given to the school about the incident. The statements were written by other students, who were in the classroom. (sic) I was unable to get all the student’s statements, on this day, due to school being out till 02/04/19.”
The police report includes some statements by the witnesses. In one statement, in which the witness’ name is redacted, Geyer writes, “Slater called Max a “porch monkey” so Max went over to Slater and pushed Slater just a little not very much, just like playing around. Then Slater punched Max in the arm. Then Max put Slater in a head lock not meaning anything serious. (Name redacted) added the following to the side of the written statement “Slater had a rod and was hitting Max but not hard enough to get mad” Then I saw Slater grab the red yellow multicolor knife that he carries in his pocket. Slater opened the knife up to the pointed blade of the knife and started to stab Max in his leg, back, gut, arm but for sure it did not go anywhere else. I saw his shirt turning a different color then I lifted his shirt up and it was about the width of the knife and blood was running. Thats (sic) when I told Max to go back in the shop where Mr. Sumrall was to get cleaned up. Then Mr. Summrall told Slater to get to Coach Greens. Then when Slater cam walking out of the door he said it was just a rod from the file cabinet.”
A statement that Geyer took from another witness, listed only as “witness #2” says, “Max was walking around the class room. Slater called Max a porch monkey. Max took offense and pushed Slater. Slater then punched Max. Max pulled Slater off the counter and put him in a head lock (sic) and Slater pulled out his knife and opened it and stabbed Max twice in the back and once in the butt. Max realized he was bleeding and went to the shop to clean it up. Mr. Sumrall told Slater to leave and stormed out. The knife was red with a yellow tint.”
Geyer says that it wasn’t until the next day, January 31st, that she was told charges wanted to be filed, “On 1/31/2019 Mr. Kelly’s father, Maximillian Kelly Sr., arrived in town and asked to speak to me. He wanted to file charges of Mr. Lindley. I contacted the school and informed them of the changes in status.”
On February 1st Geyer added more information to the report, “On 02/01/2019 Mr. Lindley brought a written statement to the Police Department. Mr. Lindley’s mother, Christy, was with him. Mrs. Lindley had some questions about everything going on. I asked Mr. Lindley about the knife. I showed him the photos of Mr. Kelly’s shirt and back. Mr. Lindley continued to state he never had a knife and only used a metal rob (sic) from the filing cabinet. Mr. Lindley stated he only poked Mr. Kelly because Mr. Kelly was not allowing him to breath (sic). Mr. Lindley’s statement states:
I have Summarl’s (sic) 6th and 7th period so I was already in the shop welding. After I ran a few beads I went outside to watch (name redacted) paint. I went back in side (sic) to help put back together a welding machine. (Name redacted) and I went back outside until it turned 2:50 I went inside and started talking to other classmates. (Name redacted) was saying “nigger” and I was talking about segregation. Max was laying on the table and jumped up. He started coming towards us laughing I jumped off the table I was sitting on and me and Max hugged playing around playing around (sic) then he put me in a choke hold making it hard for me to breath (sic) so I grabbed a metal rob (sic) from the table and started poking at his back to get him to let go. He started squeezing harder so I started poking harder because I started seeing stars and couldnt (sic) breath (sic). He wouldnt (sic) let go. The last time I poked at his back he let go and I gasped air and breathing (sic) hard. Then (name redacted) came to Max, lifted his shirt and was squeezing his back. Max started bleeding and went to the shop to clean it off and I went back there to help clean up. Summarl (sic) told me to go to Coach Green’s and so I did. He wasn’t there so I was going back to the Ag shop but I met the rest of the class at the back door of the school. I went back to the office and waited. My dad showed up about thirty minutes later. While I was waiting Coach Green and Coach McCarty searched me. Finally we all left and outside me and Max started laughing and his aunt said “boys will be boys again to my dad.’ We all laughed then left school.”
According to the report, witness #3 (name redacted) stated, “Slater called Max a bad racial slur. “porch monkey” (sic) was the term. I saw Max go up to Slater, but nothing after that. I then came back to see that Max was gushing blood from the wound. Slater told us not to say it was a knife.”
Geyer met with another witness labeled as “witness #6”, who stated, “Slater called Max a rasist (sic) slur so Max walked up to Slater playing around and put Slater in a choke hold but Slater got mad and started punching Max so Max tightened his hold and then Slater pulled out his knife and stabbed Max and Max let go.”
It was later that Lindley decided to file charges against Kelly. The report, (#190130-00029) lists Lindley as a suspect and Kelly as a victim in the stabbing and lists Lindley as a victim and Kelly as a suspect in the misdemeanor assault. Soto said that one member of Lindley’s family approached her and said that if Kelly filed charges against Lindley then Lindley was going to file charges on Kelly, “She was really trying to convince me not to press charges. She said that if charges were pressed then both kids would get in trouble and not be able to play sports the rest of the year.”
Soto said that Kelly was given 5 days in ISS (in school suspension) but that Lindley wasn’t punished because she says he withdrew from school, “We were told that he graduated early because that he already had enough credits to graduate and they told him that he wasn’t going to be able to walk on graduation day so he took a test and graduated.”
Soto did provide text messages that she says were sent between her and Geyer. In one message on January 31st, Soto asks Geyer if she has to sign papers to file charges. In her reply, Geyer says, “No, I am working on it. Can I get a copy of the medical stuff, if he was looked at? And, if Slater’s Father (sic) calls Max to “work it out” I need to know.”
On January 30th, at 8:23 p.m., 5 hours after the stabbing, Soto texted Geyer again, “Hey Paula, sorry to bother you. Can I change my mind on pressing charges? There was a student who seen (sic) him get stabbed with a pocket knife.” Geyer’s reply was, “We are still investigating. One kid described the knife, we just can’t find it.” Soto’s reply was, “Okay max (sic) is sweet, and doesn’t’ want him in trouble cause he graduates this year. But hearing everything this kid does and gets away with, I don’t like it.” Geyer’s response to that text message was, “I’m glad you changed your mind.”
In another set of text messages between Soto and chief Geyer, Soto writes, “She (Lindley’s mother) said that you said not (sic) ones stories are adding up but we have text messages of witness who seen (sic) it.” Geyer replies with, “The written statements I have aren’t adding up to what Slater is saying happened!”
A Freedom of Information request was sent to the District Attorney’s office regarding the charges but they declined to release any information, citing an “open investigation” and “pending criminal prosecution and is information that deals with the detection, investigation, or prosecutions of crime.”
All of the photos and the police report can be found online at www.runnelscountyregister.com.