Shockley sentence for murder now up to judge after Carter County jury can't decide

Sunday, March 29, 2009
Lance Shockley

WEST PLAINS, Mo. -- A Carter County jury deliberated three hours Saturday afternoon but was unable to agree on whether a Van Buren, Mo., man should be sentenced to death or life in prison for gunning down a Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper.

The fate of Lance D. Shockley, 32, is now in the hands of Presiding Circuit Judge David Evans.

On Friday, the jury of seven men and five women convicted Shockley of first-degree murder in connection with the death of Sgt. Carl Dewayne Graham Jr. Graham was found shot to death in his Van Buren driveway March 20, 2005. He was still in uniform, having just completed his shift.

At 6:19 p.m. Saturday, the jury sent out a question asking what to do if it could not agree on a sentence.

After being given an answer, the jury sent out an "unable to decide or agree" jury form, indicating that was its verdict, at about 6:30 p.m.

Evans said the jury had unanimously found three of the aggravating factors it had been asked to consider while deciding on a sentence, including that Graham was a peace officer exercising his duty at the time of his death and was a potential witness in a pending investigation.

The jury found no mitigating factors.

Evans said sentencing would be sometime in April.

The jurors began deliberations at about 3:20 p.m. after hearing closing arguments from assistant attorney general Kevin Zoellner and Shockley's attorney, Bradford Kessler.

Graham, Zoellner said, wasn't killed on the side of the road when he was struck by a vehicle or while responding to a domestic disturbance. "He was murdered in his driveway" by someone who wanted him dead, he said. "Lance Shockley planned this out."

He showed the jury photographs of Graham's body lying beside his patrol car and a close-up of his head wound.

Graham, he said, was killed doing his job and was killed because he was a potential witness in an investigation involving Shockley.

Kessler told the jurors the defense accepted the jury's verdict.

Shockley, he said, will die in prison, whether by the death penalty or life imprisonment. "He's not going to get out," he said.

Kessler said the victims are "out here. ... This is a family that's affected," gesturing first to the Shockley family, then to the Graham family.

Kessler asked the jury to give one more day to his client's daughters, grandfather, cousin and other relatives. "That's what it's all about," he said.

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