Ronald Wayne Shewmaker testified in his own defense Thursday, saying he had plans to marry the woman he killed moments after he heard their relationship was nothing more than a scam that took him for nearly $20,000.
Shewmaker, 44, Corydon, has been charged with murder in the shooting death of Lisa McQuirt, but he claims he acted in self defense and only fired his 9 mm handgun after she had brandished a .44 Magnum Desert Eagle, firearm, he had reported stolen less than three weeks earlier.
Shewmaker told the court he shot McQuirt, a 32-year-old mother of five, while seated behind the wheel of his Ford Ranger after she had come out of her boyfriend’s house on Kenwood Avenue in Clarksville and approached his vehicle with the handgun.
The first shot struck McQuirt in the chin and left through her neck area. A second shot fired by Shewmaker hit McQuirt in the back.
“You could say she was running away, but she still had the gun,” Shewmaker testified. “I was scared to death she was going to turn around and shoot me.”
Shewmaker said he had fist met McQuirt in June 2012 while seated at the bar of Rustic Frog, a New Albany strip club where McQuirt was a dancer.
He said the relationship was slow to evolve, and they remained only friends for several months.
McQuirt took a job dancing at Bottoms Up, a strip club in Louisville, and Shewmaker began giving her money so she could move out of a motel and into a house, he testified.
By the middle of October, Shewmaker told McQuirt he would no longer give her money, and she told him she had fallen in love with him and wasn’t going to give up on their relationship.
He testified they started seeing one another several times a week, talked on the phone daily and began to discuss marriage.
Shewmaker began making frequent visits to her home and met her children, and on Nov. 5 he made a down payment on a vehicle for McQuirt.
He testified that over the course of the relationship he had given McQuirt nearly $20,000 in gifts and money.
As the relationship developed he picked out an engagement ring and considered McQuirt to be his fiancé.
He said that on several dozen visits to the family home, McQuirt’s husband was there, but McQuirt had introduced the man as her brother.
He told the court McQuirt’s five children, at least those old enough to talk, had called their father “uncle” while he was visiting the home.
Shewmaker said he first learned he may have been duped by McQuirt from a female employee of Pussycat Lounge, a Louisville strip club he was patronizing in the hours before he shot and killed McQuirt.
He said the woman told him that McQuirt and her husband had ran the same scam on other men in the past.
Shewmaker testified that he left the strip club looking for McQuirt and had first went to her house, but her mother said she was not there.
He said he then decided to go to a Clarksville gas station where he had once dropped off McQuirt, because it was walking distance to the home of one of her friends.
McQuirt’s 15-year-old daughter previously testified that she and her mother would frequently see Shewmaker in his vehicle parked outside their home and when they were driving around the area.
While on the witness stand, Clark County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Jeremy Mull pressed Shewmaker, asking him if he had actually followed McQuirt to the Kenwood Avenue home. Shewmaker said he had not, but had found her vehicle by chance.
Shewmaker located McQuirt’s vehicle parked near a duplex, and he had first knocked on a neighboring door, but no one responded. He then knocked on the building’s other door, which was answered by Jeremy Walker, who has testified in the trial.
Shewmaker asked Walker where the girl was who drives the vehicle parked out front, and Walker told him he didn’t know and shut the door.
Shewmaker knocked a second time, and the door was opened by McQuirt’s boyfriend, Norman Wolfe.
There was a brief, heated exchange between the men, which ended with Wolfe slamming the door shut.
Shewmaker said he then pulled a knife out of his pocket and slashed all four tires of McQuirt’s vehicle in frustration that she would not come out of the home to speak with him. He said he wanted to disable the vehicle so McQuirt could not drive away, and he planned to come back and get the vehicle the following day.
Shewmaker testified that he then got into his pickup truck, and McQuirt came out of the home “screaming and hollering” and said, “Look what you’ve done to my car.”
He said she was armed with the Desert Eagle gun, and he shot her in the face because he feared for his life.
Throughout the trial the defense, led by attorneys Bart Betteau, New Albany, and Brian Butler, Louisville, have claimed that McQuirt had a firearm the night of the shooting, but none of the witnesses have testified she was seen with a weapon.
Betteau and Butler have raised the fact that many of the people in the home at the time of the shooting and who have provided testimony have significant criminal histories. And, it appears the defense wants the jury to decide that someone in the home retrieved the Dessert Eagle brandished by McQuirt and hid it before police arrived to the scene.
To support its argument, the defense called its second and last witness, an inmate of the Michael L. Becher Adult Correctional Complex. The man said while serving time with Wolfe in the jail, the two traded stories about exotic weapons, and Wolfe had told him that he had once been in possession of a .44 Magnum Dessert Eagle firearm.
During Walker’s testimony early in the trial, the 23-year-old said he had never known McQuirt to carry a firearm.
However, Betteau also showed a video recording of Walker being interview by a Clarksville police detective the day of the shooting, at which time Walker said McQuirt had showed him a Dessert Eagle handgun in the trunk of her vehicle while at a Wendy’s restaurant in Clarksville weeks before the shooting.
Mull has said McQuirt being in possession of a firearm weeks before the shooting has limited relevance and is not sufficient evidence to place a firearm in her hands at the time of her death.
Closing arguments were expected to take place this morning.
If found guilty, Shewmaker could be sentenced from 45 to 65 years in the Indiana Department of Correction.