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January 15, 2014

Plea deal reached in New Albany murder case

Shooting happened during sexual role play

NEW ALBANY — A plea agreement has been reached in the case of a New Albany woman charged with murdering a man in her home during sexual role play.

Lisa Shuler, 32, Wabash Avenue, was charged with murder after shooting a man in her home in May 2013 during a sexual encounter she has described to police as “rape fantasy.”

After a hearing Wednesday, Floyd County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Steven Owen said a plea agreement has been signed, but it will not be an official document until a sentencing hearing set for Jan. 29 is held in Floyd County Superior Court No. 3.

Owen said the Office of the Floyd County Prosecutor has kept contact with the family of the victim, Charles Pierce, Louisville, who was 49 years old at the time of his death.

“They [the Pierce family] wanted a resolution to this case, and that’s why we entered a plea agreement,” Owen said, who added that Pierce’s mother is dealing with medical issues and requested the case be resolved without going to trial.

Owen said the plea agreement involves Shuler pleading guilty to the murder charge and accepting a 45-year term in the Indiana Department of Correction with no probation.

Owen said prosecutors are confident to try Shuler in trial, but added, “She could have received some more time, but it would not have been a lot more time.”

If the case had proceeded to trial, Shuler’s maximum sentence for a murder conviction would be 65 years imprisonment, if found guilty.

While a sentencing hearing has been scheduled, Owen said Shuler has not pled guilty and that she could back out of the plea agreement before the hearing is held.

THE CRIME

According to a probable cause affidavit, Shuler shot Pierce with a .40-caliber handgun at close range after an arrangement had been made for the two to meet at her home.

Shuler has told investigators that she had planned for Pierce to come to her home “to play out rape fantasy,” according to the affidavit.

After Pierce entered the home, Shuler, after performing a sex act, pulled out her firearm that she had in a holster on her belt and fired the gun until it was empty, according to the affidavit.

The two are not believed to have had a long-term relationship.

She had left the front door of the home unlocked and was doing dishes when Pierce arrived, and the role playing began.

“[Shuler] ... thought that she did not want to go further with the things that Mr. Pierce wanted to do as far as the role play,” according to the affidavit.

Shuler called 911 after the shooting and originally told authorities that Pierce had been a home intruder.

She later told investigators that before Pierce had arrived at her home, she had deleted more than 200 text messages from her phone, and while speaking with 911 dispatch, she attempted to remove text messages from Pierce’s phone, but the phone was locked. Before deputies arrived, Shuler told police, she returned Pierce’s phone back into his pocket.

She also told investigators that Pierce had photographs from a previous sexual encounter that she didn’t want her husband to see.

Officials have said that Shuler and her husband lived in different counties at the time of the murder.

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