Local News

Shannon Found Guilty In Death Of Army Husband; Sentenced To Life

Posted August 31, 2005

— A Fayetteville woman was found guilty on all counts in connection with the death of her Army husband and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole Wednesday.

Joan Shannon is accused of planning her husband's death and persuading her 15-year-old daughter, Elizabeth Shannon, to kill Army Maj. David Shannon in 2002. She faced charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and accessory after-the-fact.

Joan Shannon stared into space as the verdict was read; her family cried and dropped their heads.

"We were hoping that it would go our way," said prosecutor Billy West. "We were confident that it would go our way and we were satisfied with that."

Joan Shannon's late husband's family members supported her all along, believing Elizabeth Shannon acted alone. The teenage girl pleaded guilty in 2004 and testified against her mother.

"Elizabeth is a very vindictive, evil child," said Virginia Schanz, Joan Shannon's sister-in-law. "She has been that way ever since I first met her. She is evil."

Joan Shannon did not testify in her own defense, a decision her family said they believed to be "right at the time." She also had a chance to address the court Wednesday, but chose not to do so.

Jurors deliberated for more than nine hours Tuesday and Wednesday. Wednesday morning, however, jurors told Superior Court Judge Jim Hardin that they could not reach a verdict.

Hardin told jurors that it was their duty to keep working on the verdict and that they should try their hardest to reconcile their differences without giving up what they believe to be the truth.

On Tuesday, jurors asked to see photographic evidence in the case, as well as transcripts from some of the witnesses who testified in the trial. The judge granted the request to see the photos, but not the request to review the transcripts.

Hardin said Wednesday that he plans to ask the prison system to house Joan Shannon and her daughter separately.

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