Parents Of Slain Deputy Sue Man Who Pulled Trigger - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Parents Of Slain Deputy Sue Man Who Pulled Trigger

Slain Deputy Michael Claiborne Slain Deputy Michael Claiborne

by Brent Frazier

WINCHESTER, Tenn. - Two grand juries have opted to not indict the man who shot and killed an off-duty Franklin County sheriff's deputy this past summer, but the deputy's parents are moving forward with a wrongful death civil lawsuit asking for $10 million.

"We feel that the true story is not getting out, that there's a lot of rumors going around," said Mike Claiborne.

Claiborne is the father of the late Michael Claiborne, 25, who died almost instantly on the rear deck of a total stranger's house late the night of June 25.
Franklin County Deputy Shot, Killed

The Claibornes agreed to an exclusive, sitdown interview with NewsChannel 5 to publicly protest, in their words, the way the justice system is failing their late son. A deputy on the force roughly 18 months, Clairnorne died of a single gunshot wound to the head at a rural, Franklin County home he had been dreaming of buying, according to his parents.

The homeowner, Larry White, a man in his mid to late 50s, shot the young deputy with a handgun, according to the Claibornes, without ever exchanging a single word with Claiborne; without ever turning on a light, or calling authorities.

"Couldn't he have just said something? He still would've been with us today," Lori Claiborne said, struggling through tears. "I think... I think it was cruel. That was our only son."

The Claibornes said Michael fell in love with White's house, which had been on the market for some time. They are skeptical that he could have afforded the monthly mortgage, given the house is currently listing for $375,000.

The Claibornes admit their son was trespassing that fateful night; the night he took a female companion, and a husband and wife set of friends, to see the breath-taking, mountain view from the rear deck. The house is located on Rowe Gap Road, in rural Franklin County, in a small place known as the Key Springs Mountain community.

The Claibornes said Michael had visited the property many times, had been contemplating buying it the past eight months, and that he assumed the house was vacant.

Mike and Lori Claiborne also admitted their son had been drinking that night, though they are uncertain of his blood alcohol content at the moment he died. What they are certain of is that Michael Claiborne was shot in the back of the head; removing, in their mind, the possibility of any claim of self defense on Larry White's part.

"If someone is turning their back on you, and going in an opposite direction, you certainly do not shoot them," said Mike Claiborne, a five-year deputy in neighboring Lincoln County, who admits he asked his son not to pursue a career in law enforcement. "It's against the law, and everyone knows that."

Franklin County Sheriff Tim Fuller agreed, and said the law is perfectly spelled out, He worries that a grand jury is missing its mark by passing on the prospect of criminal charges.

"Claiborne was shot in the head," Fuller told NewsChannel 5 on Wednesday afternoon. "How can a person have intimate danger or threat, when they're shot in the back of the head? Claiborne was found to be unarmed. You can't just arbitrarily shoot someone because they're on your porch."

The sheriff is still hopeful the Claiborne case, that rules homicide on his death certificate, can go before a grand jury one more time. He claims someone is getting away with murder.

NewsChannel 5 attempted to reach gunman and homeowner Larry White, who now lives in Florida, through his defense attorney. His attorney, who practices out of Nashville, was adamant about remaining mum on the developments. That attorney also said he had advised his client to keep quiet, too.


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