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November 5, 2013

Shewmaker's lawyers claim self defense

Trial begins in shooting death of Lisa McQuirt

JEFFERSONVILLE — Ronald Wayne Shewmaker met Lisa McQuirt, a dancer at a Louisville strip club, several months before he fatally shot her outside a Clarksville home in February.

Whether he murdered McQuirt or acted in self defense will be up to a jury to decide.

Shewmaker’s trial, which could result in the Corydon man going to prison for up to 65 years, began in Clark County Tuesday, with his lawyers claiming he acted out of self defense when he took the life of the New Albany mother of five.

Shewmaker,44, has hired attorneys Bart Betteau, New Albany, and Brian Butler, Louisville.

Betteau told the jury during the trial’s opening remarks that Shewmaker had tried to find McQuirt, 32, by going to her boyfriend’s Kenwood Avenue home about 4:30 a.m. Feb. 18.

Betteau continued that before Shewmaker left the property, McQuirt pointed a firearm at him, and he responded by shooting her to death.

Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull claims the firearm brandished by McQuirt is only a fabrication of the defense, and that the evidence will clearly show McQuirt is guilty of murder.

“I think that defense is not going to hold water once you hear all the evidence that we have to present,” Mull said after the day of court. “Whatever gun they are claiming that she had, none of the witnesses will say that she had a gun.”

While it appears the firearm the defense claims McQuirt threateningly used toward Shewmaker will not be submitted as evidence, it will likely continue to be a central figure in the trial because there were no witnesses to the shooting.

“It is a fact that the defendant at some time in the past had reported a gun stolen,” Mull said. “I think the strategy of the defense is to try to place that gun in the hands of her [McQuirt] at the scene, so that they can set up some sort of self defense. That is, obviously, the direction this is going.”

Before the shooting, the defense is arguing that Shewmaker had fallen in love with the exotic dancer during their brief relationship, and that McQuirt was involved with Shewmaker only because he provided her with money and gifts.

Butler said McQuirt’s commitment to the relationship was so insincere that she had introduced her husband as her brother to Shewmaker, who would come to her home and visit with her and her family.

Mull’s first of five witnesses called to testify Tuesday was a neighbor who had taken her dog out for an early morning walk the day of the incident. The woman testified that she saw a man, later identified as Shewmaker, knock loudly on the door of McQuirt’s boyfriend’s home, speak briefly with a man who answered the door, then use a knife to slash the tires of a vehicle parked in front of the home.

Shewmaker knew the vehicle well, as he had previously purchased it for McQuirt, and it was registered in both their names.

The neighbor testified that she was frightened of the bizarre situation across the street, and quickly returned to her home. After shutting the door, the woman said she heard three rounds of gunfire.

Mull also called to testify a longtime friend of Shewmaker’s who has lived in Illinois for nearly seven years.

The man told the court that he had received a phone call from an emotionally wrecked Shewmaker at his Illinois home in the early morning hours, possibly after he had shot McQuirt.

“He said he loved me, and he had made a mistake, and there was nothing he could do about,” the man testified, adding that Shewmaker was “very distraught” at the time of the phone call.

During cross examination, Butler had the friend clarify that Shewmaker did not admit to the shooting or what the mistake was that he had mentioned.

The last witness called by the state Tuesday was Jeremy Walker, 23, who had been in the home when Shewmaker arrived, and when McQuirt was gunned down.

Walker said several people were in the apartment, including two young children, two other men and two women.

Walker said he was asleep on a couch near the front door and was woken by Shewmaker knocking on the home’s front door.

Walker and another man answered the door, and Shewmaker asked where the girl was that drives the car parked out front.

Walker told the man he didn’t know who the car belonged to and shut the door.

Shewmaker then began beating loudly on the door, Walker said, and he went to alert Norman Wolfe, McQuirt’s boyfriend, that someone was at the door.

Wolfe then answered the door, and after a lively, but brief exchange, he slammed the door shut on Shewmaker, Walker testified.

He said Wolfe then told McQuirt to go outside and speak with Shewmaker.

Walker said from the witness stand that he became fearful from what had occurred and went to the top of the home’s basement stairs, to guard the children downstairs in the case that the situation escalated taking place near a side door.

A short time later, McQuirt fell into the side door covered in blood and suffering from several gun shot wounds, Walker said.

Police were then called and responded to the home minutes later.

After Mull had completed his serious of questions, Betteau began aggressively questioning Walker during cross examination.

Betteau raised the issue that Walker, Wolfe, and McQuirt all had significant criminal histories, and alleged that someone had recovered the firearm brandished by McQuirt and hid it before police arrived.

Walker reiterated several times that he was not aware, nor did he believe, that McQuirt had a firearm in her possession during the incident.

McQuirt was taken from the home by paramedics and died shortly thereafter.

The trial was scheduled to resume Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. in Clark County Circuit Court No. 1 where Judge Daniel Moore is presiding.

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