Local News

State Won't Block Army Wife's Murder Conviction Appeal

Posted November 9, 2007 3:02 p.m. EST

— State authorities have stopped fighting a Fayetteville woman's attempts to appeal her 2005 murder conviction in the death of her Army officer husband.

Joan Shannon was sentenced to life in prison without parole two years ago after being found guilty of persuading her 15-year-old daughter, Elizabeth Shannon, to kill Army Maj. David Shannon in 2002. Prosecutors said Joan Shannon wanted to collect her husband's life insurance money and live with an enlisted soldier with whom she was having an affair.

Elizabeth Shannon pleaded guilty in the case in 2004 and testified against her mother. She is serving a 25-year prison sentence.

The state Court of Appeals ruled in April that Joan Shannon was entitled to have a Superior Court judge evaluate whether some evidence withheld from defense lawyers, including notes and recordings of conversations between prosecutors and witnesses, could have led the jury to acquit her.

Although state law has for years defined what evidence prosecutors must turn over, state legislators rewrote state law this summer to clearly state that such out-of-court conversations should be made available to defense lawyers in criminal cases.

Because of the new law, the state Attorney General's Office has dropped its appeal of the appellate court ruling to the state Supreme Court.

It was unclear when the case would be heard by a Superior Court judge.