Trial date pushed back for accused killer of patrolman

Saturday, November 11, 2006

By KYLE W. MORRISON

Southeast Missourian

The trial date for an accused killer of a Missouri State Highway Patrol officer was pushed back as the local judge overseeing the case recused himself.

Prosecutors and public defenders for Lance Shockley were scheduled to present arguments on a defense motion for a continuance on the trial date.

But before arguments could be heard, Judge William Syler granted the motion, then immediately recused himself and sent the case back to Carter County, according to public defender Jan Zembles.

The trial was originally scheduled to start Jan. 17.

Shockley, 29, of Van Buren, Mo., was charged with first-degree murder in the March 20 fatal shooting of Sgt. Carl Graham Jr. If convicted, Shockley could be sentenced to death.

The shooting happened in Carter County, and was originally assigned to Judge R. Jack Garrett. In July 2005, Garrett recused himself from the case for undisclosed reasons.

Because Garrett was the only circuit court judge in Carter County, the Missouri Supreme Court assigned the case to Syler, who works as a circuit court judge in Cape Girardeau, Bollinger and Perry counties.

According to Zembles, Syler recused himself Friday and sent the case back to Carter County because Garrett is no longer on the bench there.

Case hearings had been held and the trial was originally scheduled to be in Cape Girardeau County, which has better facilities and a jail, something Carter County is lacking, Zembles said.

Zembles was unsure if the case would be moved to another county that is more equipped to handle the trial, but said she did not plan on filing for a change of venue.

"As of this moment, everything is back in Carter County, including the trial," she said.

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