CARTER COUNTY, Mo. -- A Carter County judge was forced to push back the jury trial in a capital murder case of a West Plains, Mo., man charged with the slaying of a Missouri State Highway Patrol sergeant.
Lance Shockley, 30, of West Plains faces charges of first-degree murder, armed criminal action and leaving the scene in relation to the shooting death of Sgt. Dewayne Graham on March 20, 2005.
At a hearing Monday morning at the Carter County Courthouse in Van Buren, Mo., Circuit Judge David Evans set a new date of March 23, 2009, to begin jury trial, with jury selection taking place March 18, 2009.
The case, fraught with delays, was slated to go to trial Jan. 7 of next year, but suffered another in a long line of setbacks because of the recent appointment of new counsel for Shockley.
Shockley's defense counsel, attorneys Jan Zembles and Tom Marshall, moved to withdraw from the case July 9. The motion to withdraw, sealed by the court, forced the appointment of tempory attorney Danny Moore before Bradford J. Kessler of St. Louis was assigned to the case.
The delays have been like an emotional roller coast for Graham's family, said Edna Cross, aunt of the victim.
Shockley has been transferred from one facility to another over the past two years while the case has stretched on, having served time in Cape Girardeau, Ste. Genevieve, Mississippi and Howell counties. The moves have come at the request of Shockley and of his attorneys.
Graham was shot and killed in front of his rural home near Van Buren, where he served as zone supervisor for the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
Within days of the killing, Shockley was arrested and charged with the murder.
Shockley was allegedly embroiled in a hit-and-run accident that had been under investigation by Sgt. Graham at the time of the shooting.