By BRADEN LAMMERS
Family and friends of a woman gunned down in a Clarksville home in February had their say Monday at the sentencing hearing of the man charged with her murder.
At the hearing, Ronald Wayne Shewmaker, Corydon, received the maximum 65-year sentence in the killing of Lisa McQuirt, a 32-year-old mother of five.
In handing down the sentence in Clark County Circuit Court No. 1, Judge Dan Moore said that the factors of the shooting — McQuirt was shot in the back — outweighed any mitigating circumstances that were taken into consideration by the court.
Shewmaker had claimed he acted in self defense, but a jury disagreed with him and convicted him of murder.
Before Shewmaker, 44, was sentenced, Clark County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Jeremy Mull called McQuirt’s friend, sister and mother to testify.
“There’s not a day that goes by that we don’t think of her,” said Summer Dickerson, McQuirt’s best friend. “Because of him, I can never talk to my best friend. I have so much anger in my heart because of him.”
Carol Kirby, McQuirt’s mother, said her daughter wasn’t perfect, but Shewmaker could have walked away anytime he wanted to.
“I am not going to forgive what he’s done,” Kirby said, addressing Shewmaker during the sentencing hearing. “I hope you suffer like I am suffering. “We have not forgiven, we have not forgotten, it’s going to be a long time before God lets me forgive.”
But Shewmaker’s attorneys pointed to the fact that the murder trial was the first time the 44-year-old had appeared in court and several witnesses called said it was not like him to hurt anyone.
Melinda Dietrich, Shewmaker’s ex-fiancé, told the court she regretted not marrying him.
“I never once feared him,” she said. “He was the most sincere and honest man I ever dated. Everybody loved him.”
Dietrich added that Shewmaker fell in love with a girl that conned him and that he got caught up running with the wrong crowd.
His father, Richard Shewmaker, also spoke in support of his son, who has worked at the family farm since he got out of high school. He said his son called him after the shooting and said she had a gun. Richard Shewmaker asked Clarksville Police Department Maj. Darrell Rayborn why police never searched for the gun.
Moore said the court was not there to judge or asses what McQuirt did for a living or her lifestyle. He added that throughout the court proceedings he has heard two versions of February’s events, but has never had an explanation as to why McQuirt was shot in the back.
“The evidence clearly shows that she was heading back to the house,” Moore said. “The final chapter of her life was written by you shooting her in the back.”
Moore imposed the minimum sentence of 45 years for the murder and raised it to a maximum sentence of 65 years because of the aggravating circumstances, calling it a “reckless act, a cold act and an act of cowardice.”
As Shewmaker left the courtroom he said he will appeal the sentence and said it was bad police work that led him to being sentenced to 65 years in prison.
Dickerson said the person the defense was trying to make Shewmaker out to be was not the whole picture, after the sentencing.
“He had a double life,” she said. “He still has his life, he should be grateful for that.”
According to previous testimony, Shewmaker said he met McQuirt in June 2012 at The Rustic Frog, a New Albany strip club. He became a regular at Bottom’s Up, a strip club in Louisville, where McQuirt was working as a dancer. Later that year, the relationship became intimate and Shewmaker even had plans to propose to McQuirt. He began spending more time with her and would often make visits to her family home, where he met her children and husband, but she had introduced her husband to Shewmaker as her brother.
Shewmaker reportedly provided McQuirt with money and gifts — up to $20,000 — including the down-payment for her car. He was told the day of the murder, at the Louisville strip club, that the relationship was a scam.
According to Shewmaker, when he went to McQuirt’s Clarksville apartment to confront her, and after approaching the home twice, she came out of the home with a .44 Magnum Desert Eagle firearm. He shot McQuirt in the face with a 9 mm handgun he had in the console area of his truck. He also fired several additional shots, striking McQuirt in the back as she was trying to flee back into the home.