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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Judge will determine Shockley's sentence

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Security was tight in and around the Howell County Courthouse this past week during the Shockley trial. This photo was taken Saturday as jurors tried to reach an agreement on what his sentence should be.Photo by Erma Harris
HOWELL COUNTY -- A Carter County jury was unable March 28 to reach a decision on the punishment for Lance Shockley of Van Buren after he was found guilty of first degree murder by the same jury the day before. Their choices were either the death penalty or life in prison.

Shockley, 32, was charged last year and convicted March 27 by a jury of seven men and five women in the shooting death of Sgt. Carl Dewayne Graham Jr. 37, on March 20, 2005. He was gunned down when he stepped out of his patrol car when he returned home from work.

Sgt. Graham was shot twice in the head and a bullet severed Graham's spine. He suffered a skull fracture when he fell backward from impact.

The trial was moved on a change of venue from Carter County to Howell County at the request of the defense.

Graham, who had family ties to Oregon County, was a 12-year veteran with the Missouri Highway Patrol and zone supervisor for Carter and Reynolds counties. At one time, early in his career, he was stationed in Oregon County and lived in Thayer. His former father and mother-in-law are Junior and Donna Roberts of Billmore. Sgt. Graham's son Hayden, now 8-years-old, is their grandson.

"This has been a hard week for our family," Junior said. He attended the trial every day. The trial started March 23. "We thought by Saturday noon the jury would have reached a decision and we would get home and I could get some work done on the farm," he said.

It was 6 p.m. before the jury returned to the courtroom and told 37th District Circuit Judge David Evans who presided over the case that they could not reach a decision in the case.

"I had seen the pictures at the shooting scene earlier in the week. They were gruesome and many people in the courtroom did not want to look at them," Roberts said.

"At one point during the trial I thought Judge Evans was going to declare a mistrial. The foreman of the jury was a former Green Beret and had written a fictional book. I don't know what that had to do with him sitting on the jury, but Judge Evans excused him and he was replaced by an alternate," Roberts said.

"Shockley seemed to show no remorse," Donna said. "Our grandson was called to the stand to testify. He was asked if he remembered his dad, and he said yes. He said they used to go hunting, camping and fishing a lot. Hayden said if he had one day left to spend with his dad 'They would just hang out.'"

A prosecutor in the case, Kevin Zoellner, said the reason for the killing of the officer was that Sgt. Graham was investigating a hit-and-run accident and was focusing on Shockley as the fleeing driver. The accident was on Nov. 26, 2004, and killed Jeffery Bayless of Carter County.

"Because the jury could not come to a decision, Judge Evans will have 30 days or until late April to determine if Shockley will receive the death penalty or life in prison," Roberts said.

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