State News

Judge to decide if wife gets new trial in killing of Army major

Prosecutors have said Joan Shannon pressured her teenaged daughter, Elizabeth, to kill her husband.

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Joan Shannon
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — A woman convicted of killing her husband, an Army major, is trying to get a new trial.

The Fayetteville Observer reports that a Superior Court judge heard arguments in the case on Friday and will decide in a few months if Joan Shannon will get a new trial.

Shannon was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in August 2005 for David Shannon's July 2002 death.

Prosecutors have said Joan Shannon pressured her daughter, Elizabeth, to kill David Shannon, so that Joan Shannon could collect insurance and be with a man she met through group sex. Elizabeth Shannon was 15 at the time of the murder.

In April 2007, the state Court of Appeals ruled  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.

That summer, state legislators rewrote state law this summer to clearly state that such out-of-court conversations should be made available to defense lawyers as evidence in criminal cases. Following the new law, the state Attorney General's Office dropped its appeal of the appellate court ruling to the state Supreme Court in November 2007.

Elizabeth Shannon pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and conspiracy and testified against her mother. She is serving a minimum of 25 years in prison.