Prosecution drops case against former minister Shahan because of insufficient evidence

Prosecution drops case against former minister Shahan because of insufficient evidence

By Neisha Roberts
The Alabama Baptist

More than three years after Richard Shahan’s arrest for the alleged murder of his wife, Attorney General Steve Marshall filed a motion April 10 in Jefferson County Circuit Court to drop the prosecution of the former Birmingham minister.

A team of attorneys from the attorney general’s office began preparations in December 2016 for a May 2017 trial date but upon review of the case they concluded there was insufficient evidence in the State’s possession at this time to move forward with prosecution, according to a news release.

The motion to “nolle prosequi without prejudice” preserves the State’s opportunity to prosecute in the future.
Having been under house arrest and living with his mother since 2014, Shahan’s electronic ankle monitor was removed April 11 and he is now “free with no restrictions,” his mother told The Alabama Baptist.

Shahan’s wife, Karen Louise Shahan, was found stabbed to death in her home located just across the parking lot from First Baptist Church, Birmingham, on July 23, 2013. At the time Richard Shahan was serving as children and families pastor and facilities director at First, Birmingham. When her body was found, Richard Shahan was out of town reportedly visiting family in Franklin, Tennessee, and Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

Since that time there have been several chapters to the case:

• December 2013 — Richard Shahan resigned from his role at First, Birmingham mid-December. He had taken administrative leave in August and sent out newsletters and prayer cards in December about a new three-year role with Bible Mission International in Frankfurt, Germany.

• Jan. 1, 2014 — He attempted to board a flight to Germany but the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office saw enough developments in the case to obtain a murder warrant. He was arrested in the Nashville airport. Emails confiscated from his computer indicated that once out of the country he planned to move to the United Kingdom and marry his boyfriend. He was held without bond at Davidson County Sherriff’s Office in Tennessee.

• Jan. 7, 2014 — He waived his right to extradition in a hearing and was returned to Jefferson County on Jan. 8. He was held in protective custody until his release on a $100,000 bond later that month and was put under house arrest.

• August 2014 — He was indicted for murder by a grand jury.

• February 2015 — He pleaded not guilty in a hearing before Jefferson County Circuit Judge Laura Petro. Petro ruled on two pre-trial motions in the hearing, one allowing prosecutors 90 days to begin providing defense attorneys with more of the “voluminous” collected evidence for the case.

• August 2015 — Petro ruled on other motions in an Aug. 19, 2015, hearing and set Nov. 6 as the deadline for prosecution to provide a list of experts they plan to call on trial. The defense argued that Richard Shahan did not kill his wife but that someone broke into their home and killed her.

• October 2016 — Jefferson County District Attorney Patrick Lamb disclosed evidence to the defense that investigators had found, according to

• December 2016 — Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office recused itself from the case and requested the attorney general’s office assume the prosecution. A trial date was set for May 2017. (Debbie Campbell contributed)