Thursday, January 6, 2011

Shoals Prosecution: They Can Preach It Either Way

A young preacher, badly in need of a job, sat before a church board. A member asked the aspiring applicant, "How do you feel about divorce and remarriage?" Without hesitation, the young preacher replied, "Just tell me how you feel. I can preach it either way."

Preaching it either way seems to be popular with local district attorneys. Yes, we realize not all cases are slam dunks; accepting a plea is often preferable to what could be unfavorable results in a jury trial. It's also preferable in many sexual abuse/rape trials in which the victim is young and testifying against the abuser is extremely traumatic.

A plea should never have been acceptable in the case of white supremacist Shaun Shapley. Shapley had a long record of drug use, assault, abuse of women, attacks on minorities, frivolous lawsuits, and...rape of his two stepdaughters. Psychologists have long theorized those who hate those of another race also hold women in low regard.

After killing the younger stepdaughter by strangulation, he attempted to cover up his crime by shooting her and testifying he was attempting to prevent her suicide. Yet, there were several who could have testified of the stepdaughter's claims of sexual abuse; DNA evidence proved Shapley was the father of the older stepdaughter's two children.

How was this man ever offered a plea of only 25 years? In Chris Connolly's own words:

At the hearing in which Shapley pleaded guilty, Connolly told Jones that if the case had gone to trial he would have presented evidence that Shapley was attempting to sexually assault Bragg when she died. “She made the statement prior to her death that the next time he attempted to sexually assault her, she was going to stop it,” Connolly said. “We expect the evidence would have shown that when she attempted to stop him, he strangled her.”

Considering Shaun Shapley's record for frivolous lawsuits, we may infer this will not be his only appeal. Appeals cost the state money--Read: Appeals cost you and me money. No, we don't expect Shapley to win any appeals. We do expect him to be released from prison in 2033 at the age of 70. Conceivably he could enjoy many free years--years that his stepdaughter Jennifer Helen Bragg will never enjoy.

Shapley's conviction counts as a win for Lauderdale District Attorney Chris Connolly. It was hardly a win for those who knew and loved Jennifer.

Read more about Shaun Shapley: Murder in Lexington