By GARY POPP
A Corydon man won’t be returning as a self-described “jack of all trades” at his parent’s farm supply shop where he has worked since graduating high school.
A Clark County jury took just an hour and 15 minutes Friday to find Ronald Wayne Shewmaker, 44, guilty of murdering Lisa McQuirt, a woman he had met at The Rustic Frog, a New Albany strip club, and planned to present with an engagement ring four months after relationship became intimate.
Shewmaker testified that he acted in self defense when he shot McQuirt, 32, in the face and back in February after she had confronted him with a handgun.
But, the firearm Shewmaker claims McQuirt had was never found by police, presented in court or seen by any of the witnesses, according to their testimonies.
The trial began Tuesday in Clark County Circuit Court No. 1, and during each day, a small group of McQuirt’s family and friends observed from the court’s gallery area.
A voice from the group erupted with a satisfying “yes” after the verdict was read by presiding Clark County Judge Dan Moore. The outburst resulted in a stern warning from Moore, and McQuirt’s loved ones hushed, but continued their silent embraces.
The hugs and tears carried into the court’s hallway as the group gathered around McQuirt’s mother, Carol Kirby.
“She didn’t deserve the way she went,” Kirby said of her daughter’s brutal death. “Mr. Ron Shewmaker had his chance to walk away anytime. He didn’t have to do what he did. The good Lord makes us do what we have to do, and he didn’t have that.”
Kirby said she will continue to raise her daughter’s five children until their father is released from jail.
As Kirby begins to heal from the pain caused by her daughter’s death and the subsequent trial, she said she hopes the Shewmaker family is able to do the same.
“I hope and pray his family can go and have peace of mind, too,” she said. “We forgive all this stuff. In our hearts, we know she was a good person and looked out for her family.
McQuirt’s sister Lora Jacobs also said she was satisfied in seeing Shewmaker held accountable for the crime.
“When she died a piece of my soul died, and I felt today that we are justified,” Jacobs said.
She said she is also involved in raising McQuirt’s children and said not all of them understand what happened to their mother.
“They miss their mother, and they say everyday, ‘We want our mommy back,’ and that is never going happen,” Jacobs said. “And, you can’t explain that to a 5-year-old, or a 3-year-old or a 2-year-old in terms they are going to understand.”
Clark County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Jeremy Mull said it made him “feel good” to bring a sense of justice to McQuirt’s loved ones.
“I believe that he murdered her in cold blood. I feel like this is an appropriate verdict, and I’m very pleased with it,” Mull said.
He said he felt confident throughout the trial that the jury would find fault in Shewmaker’s claim of self defense.
“I truly did believe that the jury would be able to look at this evidence and come up with the correct conclusion,” Mull said. “And, in fact, it did not take them very long at all to do that.”
During opening and closing arguments, Mull told the jury the evidence alone is enough for them to find Shewmaker guilty.
“I was confident in the case that there would be a murder conviction because it was the right resolution,” he said.
Shewmaker’s hired counsel, attorneys Bart Betteau, New Albany, and Brian Butler, Louisville, declined to comment during the trial and after the verdict had been reached.
During his testimony Thursday, Shewmaker said he met McQuirt in June 2012, and in October of that year the relationship had became intimate. He said he began to spending more time with McQuirt and would often make visits to her family home, where he met her children and husband, but she had introduced her husband to him as her brother.
Shewmaker’s testimony included him providing McQuirt and her family with money and gifts, “ … up to $20,000, maybe more,” he told the court.
In the early morning hours the day of the murder, Shewmaker said he had been told while at a Louisville strip club that the relationship was a scam, carried out by McQuirt and her husband, and that he wasn’t their first victim.
Hours later, he searched for McQuirt’s vehicle, which he had purchased for her in November 2012, in a Clarksville neighborhood. He found the vehicle parked in front of a duplex. Shewmaker testified that after McQuirt refused to come to the door he had approached twice, he used a pocket knife to slash the tires of the car.
He said he got into his pickup truck and McQuirt had then came out of the duplex armed with a .44 Magnum Desert Eagle firearm.
Shewmaker testified that he feared for his life and responded by retrieving a 9 mm handgun in the console area of his vehicle and shot McQuirt in her face. He is believed to have fired three additional rounds, one of which stuck McQuirt in the back as she ran from him.
He did not call authorities to report the incident and was arrested at his home nearly two hours later.
Shewmaker is scheduled to be sentenced between 45 to 65 years in the Indiana Department of Correction Dec. 2 in Clark County Circuit Court No. 1.