On July 19th2003 Shawn was murdered in his hotel room in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Shawn was working as a lighting director, in town as a subcontractor for a Microsoft convention. He checked in on July 13th and was scheduled to leave for home in Atlanta on the day he was murdered.
Shawn was seen at the (French) Quarter's Original Dungeon Bar in the early hours of July 19th. A witness or witnesses have stated that the group discussed robbing Shawn in the French Quarter before they left for the hotel. Shawn was then seen on the Marriott Courtyard Hotel's surveillance camera entering with four people at around 6am. The four consisted of two women and two men, who were wearing what the police considered "goth" style clothing. These four people turned out to be:
Kris Mitchell Lane, 24 - Arrested August 3, 2003
Benjamin Anthony, 24 - Arrested August 1, 2003
Karla Frye, 20 - Arrested July 26, 2003
"Catt", 21 - Cooperating with Police - Not charged in murder
Shawn had multiple blunt force traumas to the head, and subsequently drowned in the hot tub in his room. The maid of the hotel opened his room repeatedly but did not enter, until finally entering his room and finding him at 12:30pm.
The New Orleans Police have established robbery as the motive. The actual motive is unknown, ranging from robbery, to a "ritualistic killing", or possibly just for the sake of doing so.
The three await trial in jail in New Orleans, indicted on the charge of First Degree Murder.
**RE: Karla Frye's Trial & Kriss Lane Sentencing - Update 07/08/05**
Since Hurricane Dennis is bearing down on both Louisiana and Florida, the
court has decided to postpone Karla's trial until August 22nd. Kris' sentencing
hearing will also be postponed, and will be scheduled for the end of that week.
The court decided that the risk was too great to proceed next week, given that
law enforcement witnesses will be flying in from Bradenton, which may also be
affected by Dennis and would prevent their departure.
I will keep you informed of any further updates. Please keep us all in your thoughts
and prayers. And pray for no hurricanes around August 22nd.
**Karla Frye's Trial & Kriss Lane Sentencing - Update 05/02/05**
Karla Frye's trial date has been set for July 12th. The prosecutor expects
her trial to take about a week. Karla is up on the same charges as Kriss Lane -
first-degree murder. At this point, it's still a death penalty case but that may change.
The prosecutor is working to schedule Kriss Lane's sentencing hearing in conjunction
with Karla's trial. So anyone interested in being present in New Orleans
for either or both of these events can do so in one trip.
**Kriss Lane Makes a Plea Deal - Update 04/30/05**
As you know, the trial of Kriss Mitchell Lane was scheduled to begin on May
2nd. It is believed that he is the one who actually killed Shawn. Earlier this
week, the defense offered a plea agreement which was accepted by the family. I was
notified this morning that it was approved by the DA.
Kriss is changing his plea to guilty and will receive a sentence of 45
years. He must serve 85% of that sentence, meaning that he will be eligible for parole at
age 62. He will serve his time at Angola State Prison, where the worst of all
offenders in Louisiana are sent. The prosecutor tells me that the average life span of an inmate
at Angola is 22.5 years. So he may not survive to age 62.
On Monday, May 2nd, the trial date will be set for the next defendant, Karla Frye.
The prosecutor expects to try her in May or June. I will keep you posted on
**RE: Trail May 2nd for Kriss Lane - Update 03/30/05**
The DNA test results are still not back, however, the prosecutor expects to receive them
within the next couple of weeks. The trial will proceed as scheduled on May 2nd, however,
only Kriss Lane will be tried in this first trial. He is alleged to be the one who actually killed
Shawn. The other two defendants will be tried later this year in separate trials.
Monday, May 2nd, will commence with jury selection, which will likely take a couple of days.
The actual trial should start by Wednesday. Since the jury will be sequestered, the trial will
continue daily, including the weekend, until the verdict is delivered. The penalty phase will
commence 12 hours after the verdict is delivered. During the penalty phase, Shawn's loved
ones will present their victim impact statements for the jury to consider in sentencing. In
Louisiana, the jury decides the sentence.
Remember - people showing up in court for Shawn will definitely make an impression on the jury.
Your presence can make a difference.
**Trail May 2nd for Kriss Lane! - Update 01/21/05**
FYI, from the prosecutor:
Hello Everyone: I just walked back into my office from our status hearing
in Sec. L on the case. I have good news and bad news (well not too
bad). The good news is that we picked a trial date of May 2, 2005. The
bad news is that the DNA is not back as of yet. So, that date is not
completely set in stone until the DNA results are in my hands. But, that
gives us a date to work towards. We have another DNA status hearing set
for March 18, 2005. Please do not make any travel arrangements before
that date as the trial date may get bumped depending on how long it takes
for the DNA. I will let you know on March 18, 2005 about making
arrangements, I would just suggest that you block off the calander for the
week of May 2, 2005 and a few days into the next week. Again,
thank you all for your help, work and most importantly, your
patience. The case has come together well and it has only been done
through each of you helping out.
FYI, a note from the prosecutor. I will keep you posted on further developments.
Thanks for your concern and support.
I have really good news in regards to the motions hearings that were held. The Judge denied all the motions to suppress the identifications, statements and evidence. That means we are allowed to use all of the above at trial. It also means that the detectives, both here and in Florida, did a fabulous job investigating the case!
The next date is January 21st for a DNA status, on that date we will pick the trial date. I am looking at March or April. Again, thank you for all of your help and cooperation.
**Trial - Motion Hearing for defendants on September 30, 2004**
Today, the final hearing was held on the motions that were filed last December.
It was brief, as the only matter was to hear testimony from another detective
from Bradenton. She was the first detective to speak to Karla at the hospital
in Bradenton regarding Karla's claims that she was kidnapped, raped, and
witnessed a couple of murders.
On November 12th, all of the attorneys must submit written arguments to the
judge, after which he will rule on these motions. The prosecutor expects that he
will rule within a week, THEN the trial date will be set. Her prediction now is that
the trial will take place in February.
The prosecutor expects that it will take a couple of days to select the
jury. The jury will be sequestered during the trial, which means that trial will be in
session every day (including Saturday and Sunday) until it's finished. The prosecutor is
still anticipating the trial to last 1-2 weeks.
Thanks for your continued support and prayers.
**Trial - Motion Hearing for defendants on August 13, 2004**
I went to New Orleans last Friday for the motion hearing that was scheduled
on that day. Upon arriving at the courthouse, I learned that the hearing
had to be postponed.
This hearing was to hear testimony from the police officer in Bradenton who
was involved in the arrest of Karla. He was unable to fly out of Florida due
to the hurricane.
We were also to hear testimony from the witness who heard Kriss discussing
the plan to rob Shawn in Jackson Square. On Friday morning, Kriss' attorney
decided to not put him on the stand. However, this witness will testify
during the trial.
I had the opportunity to talk to this witness, Jerry. I thanked him for coming
forward and helping with this case. He immediately mentioned what a nice
guy Shawn was, and that he didn't deserve what happened to him. He also
told me that the reason he left New Orleans and went to California was that
two of Kriss' "friends" attacked and knifed him, so he didn't feel safe in New
Orleans. He is now in witness protection. He seemed very nervous about
testifying. I told him that I supported him completely in doing the right
thing and assured him that what he is doing for this case is very important and
everyone who cared about Shawn appreciates it.
The hearing has been rescheduled for October 1st. Hopefully, this will
really be the final one, and the trial date will be set at the conclusion of the
hearing. I have been assured by the prosecutor that this will not delay the trial. She
said that what happens in the hearing on Oct. 1 will not impact the prosecution's
case, and they will be ready to go to trial.
Thanks again for your continued thoughts and prayers. If you have any
questions about the case, feel free to contact me.
**Trial - Motion Hearing for defendants on July 12, 2004**
The motion hearing that was supposed to happen yesterday has been postponed
again. New date is August 13th. Still no trial date.
The good news is that another key witness has turned up and is now in witness
protection so he won't disappear again. This is the guy who heard Kris
discussingthe plan to rob Shawn and went to the police with that information. He
will be testifying at the next hearing. I will be there and report back.
**Trial - Motion Hearing for defendants on June 11, 2004**
The motion hearing originally set for June 11th has been rescheduled for
July 12th. I will be going to New Orleans for that one and will report on
it when I return.
**Trial - Motion Hearing for defendants on May 7, 2004**
A very important message from Theresa, Shawn's girlfriend, regarding the case / Penalty Phase:
I was in New Orleans again on May 7th to attend the 2nd motion hearing in Shawn's case. It was much easier the second time around.
This hearing primarily addressed the motion to suppress evidence, and motion to suppress identification by witnesses. The crime scene technician who collected evidence from Karla at the hospital in Bradenton testified in detail about her procedures. The issue here is the timeline of when evidence was gathered relative to when the Bradenton officials learned that she was a murder suspect, and whether the evidence was collected as a part of a rape/kidnapping investigation or as part of the murder investigation. This is a very simplistic breakdown of the issue. Remember that when Karla went to the hospital, she reported that she and her boyfriend had been kidnapped, that she'd been raped, and the boyfriend had been fatally shot in an escape attempt. None of this is true.
Detective Harbin then testified regarding the various witnesses that identified the defendants from photographic line-ups.
Mary, a.k.a. Catt., then testified about the events of that night and her identification of the defendants. Remember that she was the other person in the group that went to the hotel. This was the difficult part for me, as more small details of what transpired come out. She was composed on the stand and gave very solid testimony.
Some of you have expressed the sentiment that Mary/Catt is as guilty as the rest of them. The fact is, she's not. She had no knowledge of the plan to rob him, and she left the hotel room before anything went down. She went to the police the day after Shawn was killed, as soon as she found out that they were looking for her, and she has cooperated fully from the beginning. Please save your wrath for the truly guilty ones.
The last person to testify was Karla's ex-boyfriend from Mobile, AL. Karla had called him from Slidell (25 miles down the interstate from New Orleans) the day after Shawn was killed. He picked her and Kriss up, and took them back to Mobile. They stayed the night, then went on to Bradenton. He didn't find out about what happened until he saw a news report later.
Miscellaneous observations: I noticed on the back of Benjamin's jail t-shirt, someone had written the word -GLUM- with a Sharpie. Karla's mother was there again. One of Benjamin's attorneys approached me during the hearing to express her condolences.
There is another hearing scheduled for June 11th. There will be testimony from another officer from Bradenton police department, and another New Orleans detective who was involved in arresting Benjamin. This should really be the last hearing on these motions, and then the trial date should be set. I will be going to that hearing as well, and will report on it once I get back.
Again, if you have any questions or want to talk to me about anything regarding the case or Shawn, please feel free to contact me. And again, thanks for all your support.
**Trial - Motion Hearing for defendants on March 26, 2004**
This hearing will be for motions filed before the actual trial, such as wanting to try the defendants separately. Note: The prosecution is vigorously fighting against any severance in Shawn's case.
A very important message from Theresa, Shawn's girlfriend, regarding the case / Penalty Phase:
Hello, hope all is well in your world.
The prosecutor in Shawn's case has asked me if I know of
anyone who would like to give testimony about Shawn during
the penalty phase of the trial. The penalty phase will commence
if the perpetrators are found guilty of first degree murder. Testimony
given during the penalty phase will be used by the jury to determine
the sentence(s) for the perpetrators. If convicted of first degree murder,
the perpetrators may be sentenced to death, or life without parole.
If you have anything you'd like to say about Shawn to the judge, jury,
attorneys, and defendants, this is your opportunity. What you say
will help the jury to understand the impact of Shawn's death on those
who cared about him, and will have a bearing on the jury's sentencing
decision. Be aware that you must come to New Orleans and speak in
person. You do not have to attend the entire trial.
If the perpetrators are found guilty of a lesser charge, there will be a
sentencing phase. In this case, you may submit a written statement
and will not be required to go to New Orleans, although your presence
will make a difference.
The prosecutor must submit a list of the names of people who can give
testimony by the end of March.
Please look into your heart regarding this request. If you are willing and
able to assist with testimony and/or a written statement, please let me
know. And please pass this message on to everyone you know who
cared about Shawn. Thanks.