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May 9, 2013

Shuler pleads not guilty to murder; bail denied

Public defender appointed for woman accused of murder in Floyd County

NEW ALBANY — Standing with her wrists in chains and in an orange prison suit, Lisa M. Shuler quietly asked Floyd County Super Court No. 3 Judge Maria Granger if bail would be available toward the end of her initial hearing Thursday.

“I will not assign bail; I will hold you without bail,” Granger told Shuler.

And with that, Shuler, 31, was escorted from the courtroom after the brief hearing.

The Floyd County woman was officially charged with one count of murder Thursday following a sexual encounter which occurred Monday evening — referred to as a “rape fantasy” at her residence at 3803 Wabash Ave. She is accused of shooting Charles Pierce, 49, of the Louisville area, multiple times with a .40-caliber handgun.

Besides being officially charged at the hearing, Shuler was again read her rights. Granger told her that murder in Indiana carries a minimum sentence of 45 years in prison. A not guilty plea was entered on her behalf.

Granger also appointed a public defender to represent Shuler, who told the judge she made $350 a week, paid $650 a month in rent and had no savings.

A pretrial hearing will be held July 3 in Superior Court 3 and a final pretrial is scheduled for Sept. 4. Her murder trial is slated to begin Sept. 24.

Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson said there were no surprises from the initial hearing and also, with a murder charge, bond is rarely, if ever, granted. He also called the case “tragic.”

“Sometimes it’s difficult to understand why someone does something like this ... I don’t have the answers,” Henderson said.

The Floyd County Sheriff’s Department was called to Shuler’s residence around 9 p.m. Monday. Pierce was found lying on the home’s living room floor with several gunshot wounds to his body and his pants and underwear pulled down to his knees, according to a probable-cause affidavit. He was taken to Floyd Memorial Hospital and Health Services in New Albany and died a short time later.

Shuler called 911 after the shooting and originally told authorities that Pierce was a home intruder, according to investigators. She allegedly has since told investigators that Pierce had photographs of her from a previous sexual encounter that she did not want her husband to see.

Henderson said during a press conference Wednesday that investigators believe Shuler didn’t have a long-term relationship with Pierce and that their relationship was not known to her husband. He said Shuler and her husband are separated and live in different counties.

“We know at least weeks,” Henderson said when asked how long the two had known one another. “We are tracing messages backward and interviewing friends to try and figure that out.”

He said Shuler has been cooperative with investigators.

“The investigation continues,” Henderson said after Thursday’s hearing. “While we have someone in custody, it still doesn’t mean the investigation is over.”

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