For Trial Information GO HERE.
UPDATE AT BOTTOM OF STORY:
This case has got me hotter than a wet hen. How long is too long to wait for someone who has been charged with capital murder to stand trial?
In the case of Lance Shockley, who is accused of gunning down Highway Patrol Sergeant Carl "Dewayne" Graham Jr., it will be at least four years before jury selection even begins.
Memories start to fade, evidence is sometimes lost, and witnesses die in cases like this.
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It was a cool afternoon in late March of 2005 when Sgt. Carl "Dewayne" Graham Jr., pulled into his rural driveway near Van Buren after a tough day working as a Missouri State Highway Patrol Trooper.
It was about 5:15 that evening, and by all accounts he was excited about the future. He had a beautiful little boy, Hayden, and he was engaged to a wonderful woman, Cathy Crowley, who he was looking forward to spending the rest of his life.
As Graham reached into his backseat to retrieve some work related items, he was ambushed, shot dead, still in his uniform.A passing motorist noticed the highway patrolman lying in his driveway and called 911.
Even though Sgt. Graham had made it to his home at the time of the shooting, the highway patrol considered his death to be in the line of duty, making him the 24th state trooper to die on the job in Missouri.
Graham was born in St. Charles County and graduated from Dexter High School in 1986. He went to college at Southeast Missouri State University, where he graduated with a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice in 1990.
Graham joined the Missouri State Highway Patrol in 1993; in 1999 he was promoted to corporal and in 2002 he became a sergeant.
At the time of his death, Graham was zone supervisor for Carter and Reynolds counties.
Three days after Graham's execution style murder, it was announced that authorities had "a person of interest" in custody. The patrol said information gathered during their investigation of Graham's death led them to arrest, Lance Shockley (b.), of Van Buren, who is now 32.
Graham had been investigating a fatal car crash in Carter County crash that he believed Shockley was responsible for.
That crash on November 26, 2004, killed Jeffrey Bayless. Bayless was the fiancee of Shockley's wife's sister.
In the probable cause statement filed along with the criminal complaint against Shockley, it is alleged Shockley asked for directions to the troopers house on the day of his murder.
It also states that Shockley allegedly borrowed his grandmother's red Pontiac Grand Am the afternoon of January 20th, and that several witnesses saw the car parked on a secluded gravel road not far from Graham's home.
Within two weeks, Shockley's wife, Coree, was charged with tampering with evidence in the case for allegedly removing ammunition from the couples home after Trooper Graham's killing.
Shortly after that Coree Shockley was charged with second degree assault of a law enforcement officer. It is alleged that she showed up on the doorstep of Carter County Prosecutor Michael Ligons home unannounced.
Coree's sister, Cynthia Chilton, was charged with perjury and Coree Shockley's mother, Sherry Chilton Keeney, 52, was charged with tampering with evidence in the case.
After three years years of delays, where judge's recused themselves (Shockley couldn't even be arraigned on the murder charge until August of 2005,) numerous motions filed, and attorney's leaving the case, it finally looked like there would be some sort of closure (I hate that word,) for Graham's family when Presiding Circuit Court Judge David Evans got the case in 2007, and set a trial date for Aug. 11, 2008.
In a move that no one saw coming Shockley's new attorney's threw prosecutors a curve ball in June.
They wanted the state to drop all the charges relating to Trooper Graham's death dismissed against Lance Shockley after prosecutors said they weren't going to call his wife, Coree, to the stand to testify against her husband for the state.
According to a motion filed by Lance Shockley's public defenders, all charges should be dismissed because Coree Shockley's testimony was key to the prosecution's case.
Their arugment, "To allow the Prosecutor to continue... when he has attested and stated as an officer of the court that a witness's testimony is "necessary" to prove his case against Mr. Shockley beyond a reasonable doubt and that he does not have and will not have that witness's testimony would obliterate Mr. Shockley's right to due process."
On June 10th, Judge David Evans denied the defense's motion to dismiss; then defense attorney Jan Zemble stated that she and her co-counsel needed more time to dispose and interview potential witnesses in the case.
In response to the motion Judge Evans said that he scheduled the trial at least a year in advance and felt that he gave both sides ample time to get their cases together.
He instructed both sides to be ready for jury selection on August 6th.
Less than a month later, Judge Evans granted a sealed motion by Lance Shockley's defense team to withdraw from the case, citing "confidential communications."
At a hearing held this week Judge Evans scheduled jury selection to begin on March 18, 2009.
Opening arguments are slated to begin on March 23, 2009.
Jury selection began today (03-19-09) in the capital murder trial of a West Plains man accused of killing a lawman.
It was four years ago that Lance Shockley allegedly gunned down Missouri State Highway Patrol Trooper Sergeant Carl DeWayne Graham Jr. in the driveway of his home as he returned home from work.
Prosecutors say that Shockley killed Graham because he was the driver of a vehicle that killed the fiancee of his wife's sister and believed his arrest was imminent.
A jury is being selected in Carter County and imported to Howell County for the trial.
Prosecutors are scheduled to make opening statements in the trial on Monday (03-23-09.)
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