News and Tribune

Clark County

April 18, 2012

Robert 'Henry' Sheckles gets four months for court room outburst

He had agreed to testify in cousin’s trial, but pleaded the fifth amendment

JEFFERSONVILLE — Robert “Harry” Sheckles will get four months in jail on a contempt of court charge following an outburst on the witness stand during his cousin’s double murder trial last year.

Sheckles used profanity, made hand gestures and twice tried to leave the witness stand during the trial of Ryan Sheckles. However, as magistrate Ken Abbott pointed out during a sentencing hearing Wednesday, he also pleaded the fifth amendment in refusing to testify.

“Profanity has never been a part of my life,” said Abbott, calling it low class. “I don’t like it in any situation.”

Abbott reference Robert Sheckles’ level of education and made note of his family’s past legal troubles. And he pointed out that the outburst didn’t keep the state from getting a conviction against his cousin.

“Mr. Sheckles had a right to plead the fifth.”

Bradley Jacobs, Robert Sheckles’ attorney, admitted that Sheckles “reacted poorly” on the witness stand. He called Wednesday’s ruling fantastic and noted that they’d asked for a 90-day sentence.

“That was about what we expected,” he said.

The four months will be served consecutively with a prior sentence Robert Sheckles is serving for dealing cocaine in Floyd County. Add the two together, and he’ll be spending the next eight months in jail.

Prosecutor Jeremy Mull wanted to see Robert Sheckles get a full year for the outburst.

“He tried to sabotage the trial. His conduct risked a mistrial. It has put the verdict [against his cousin] at great risk,” Mull said, noting that the outburst is referenced in his cousin’s appeal. “The court was a scene of chaos at the time.”

Mull said Robert Sheckles had agreed to testify against his cousin prior to taking the stand that day in exchange for only being charged with a class D felony assisting a criminal.

Mull said he was there when his cousin shot and killed Larry “Pucka” Morrow, 38, and Shannon Howard, 24, in the 200 block of Walnut Street in Jeffersonville on Aug. 25, 2009. Ryan Sheckles was ultimately convicted of two counts of murder and sentenced to 120 years in prison. Unless his appeal is successful, he will not be eligible for release until 2070.

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