No 'Stand Your Ground': Teen charged with murder in Snapchat stabbing will go to trial
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - A Mount Pleasant teenager charged with murdering another teen in a 2015 fight over a girl will go to trial.
A judge denied Wednesday a request for immunity for Matthew Fischer under the state's "Stand Your Ground" law.
Fischer is charged with murder in the stabbing death of Sullivan's Island teen Luke Cavanaugh.
Cavanaugh's family released the following statement regarding Wednesday's decision:
"For more than two years, we have mourned the loss of our beautiful son, Luke. Our family and friends have lived with the most unimaginable void and still struggle with the harsh reality of his unnecessary death. Tomorrow's hearing will open wounds that we are desperately trying to heal but we put our faith into our judicial system and trust that justice will prevail."
Fischer and Cavanaugh were students at Wando High School at the time. Police reports show they were fighting over a girl after exchanging messages on Snapchat.
Fischer claimed it was self-defense, saying Cavanaugh showed up at his girlfriend Natalie Brown's home and ran straight at him, attacking him.
However, prosecutor Jennifer Kneece Shealy read one of the messages aloud in the courtroom, showing Fischer had already threatened to kill Cavanaugh.
Fischer hung his head and cried as Shealy repeated the message, which read, "F*** him, I'll slice him up. He doesn't know me, doesn't f*****g get to say that to my face. He f****d up, and if he talks to you again, he's gonna get it. And I'll kill him, eventually."
Despite this, Fischer said on the stand in Wednesday's hearing he never meant to do it.
"I didn't mean to kill him," Fischer said. "I just needed to keep him off of me. He had me in a chokehold."
"I am absolutely convinced at the time Matthew used that knife, in his mind he was going to lose his life," Fischer's attorney, Andy Savage, said after Wednesday's hearing.
Prosecutors argued in the Wednesday hearing that Fischer had options other than stabbing Cavanaugh.
Shealy brought up the fact that in his original statement to police, Fischer told investigators Cavanaugh had already released the alleged chokehold when he pulled the knife out and stabbed him.
"I said that but I don't remember a whole lot," Fischer said. "It happened very fast, ma'am. I was on the ground and I lost my breath. I was blacking out."
Shealy later asked Fischer why he didn't tell Cavanaugh to let him go, and simply brandish the knife as a warning instead of stabbing him.
"I couldn't, I was in a chokehold," Fischer said. "I couldn't say anything. Again, I could not breathe."
Police say Fischer pulled the knife from his right pants pocket and stabbed Cavanaugh several times in the torso. Cavanaugh was found by officers lying in the middle of the street with wounds and two women sitting near him.
Investigators say Fischer dropped the knife and ran after the incident. He was later found sitting in his mother's car at the scene.
Brown also took the stand and recalled the ordeal.
Brown told the court Fischer instructed her to tell investigators Cavanaugh had run at him, initiating the fight.
Brown also shared what she saw in the moments after Cavanaugh was stabbed. She said Cavanaugh lifted his shirt and she watched his intestines fall out into his hand.
"It's a terrible thing," Savage said. "It's a tough thing legally for us to have to defend this thing, to have to hear the lifestyle of these children, but this is such a waste. I don't know how these things get out of hand but it did and someone lost their life and we're all real sorry about that."