(BROWNSTOWN) - The reason behind John Shoultz Jr.'s May 2, 2009, murder may remain unknown, but there seems little doubt about who shot and killed the rural Crothersville man - his son, John Aaron Shoultz III.
Aubrey Wood of the Tribune reports that Salem attorney Alice Bartanen Blevins portrayed her 24-year-old client as a person who grew up in a home full of anger and conflict, especially between him and his father. The shooting, she says, was an act of self defense fueled by fear.
But Deputy Prosecutor Jeff Chalfant says the murder was orchestrated because of the long- running conflict between the two men. He told the jury the younger Shoultz told his cellmate about what he had planned and done.
After opening statements, John Aaron Shoultz's ex- girlfriend, Andrea Howard, testified to the events that led to the murder.
Howard said she started dating the younger Shoultz, whom she called John Aaron, about seven months or so before the murder and went to live with him at the home of his parents, John Shoultz Jr. and Ronda Shoultz, at 7865 S. Ind. 39, Crothersville.
Chief Deputy Prosecutor Amy Marie Travis asked Howard if she ever heard any arguments between her then boyfriend and John Shoultz Jr.
" I never heard any arguments," Howard said. "They got along."
Howard said that sometime in April 2009, she told John Aaron Shoultz she wanted to leave him and move back in with her sister. That statement came during an argument in the bedroom they shared because she was upset that a sandwich she had ordered had mayonnaise on it. "The argument grew," Howard said.
Howard said John Aaron was angry about her wanting to leave, and that his mother eventually came into the room to try to break up the fight. Ronda's dog followed her into the room, and John Aaron Shoultz told his mom to get the beagle puppy, named Cain, out of the room, Howard testified.
The younger Shoultz then stabbed the dog, she said.
Howard said Shoultz then followed the dog into his mother and father's bedroom and slit its throat, killing it.
Ronda was crying after the dog's death, Howard said.
Howard said Ronda told John Shoultz Jr. about the incident when he came home, and the elder Shoultz moved out of the house and went to his mother's home.
She said he stayed there for at least a week or two before Ronda convinced him to move back home.
Howard said when John moved back in, he brought a Chihuahua named Tiny Tot with him as a present for Ronda.
Travis asked Howard why she continued to live in the Shoultz home. "I was scared of John Aaron," she said.
On the evening of John Shoultz's murder, Howard said she and the younger Shoultz talked about the new dog.
"He told me he wanted to kill Tiny Tot," Howard said.
She said she didn't like that idea and thought Ronda needed the dog.
Howard said she told the younger Shoultz that they should tape the dog's legs together because she thought it was better than the dog being killed. The couple then bound Tiny Tot's legs with duct tape and placed the dog back in the bed in Ronda and John Shoultz's bedroom, where Ronda was sleeping, Howard said.
Ronda was angry when she awoke to find the dog's legs taped together, Howard said.
Howard said Ronda showed the dog to her husband. After failing to cut the tape off the dog's legs with a knife, John Shoultz Jr. headed toward the bedroom Howard shared with the younger Shoultz.
She said the younger Shoultz told his dad not to come into the room, but the elder Shoultz never said anything before entering with the puppy cradled in one arm.
" The next thing I heard was four gun shots," said Howard, who was back inside the bedroom when those shots rang out.
According to the probable cause affidavit, Shoultz told police he fired one shot in the ceiling before firing three shots at his father because he feared his dad was going to cut him or Howard.
She said the older Shoultz fell to the floor face up, and John Aaron Shoultz knelt over his dad.
"He told his dad not to die," Howard said.
Howard said she never felt threatened by the older Shoultz during the incident, but she had went outside briefly to get her dog, Nightmare, a black Labrador retriever, because John Shoultz Jr. had questioned why they did not tape the black dog's legs. After hiding the weapon, a 10mm nickel -plated Smith & Wesson handgun, in a barn on the property, the younger Shoultz and Howard left the residence and were heading to a relative's home in North Vernon when they were stopped by police.
Howard said she first told police that she hid the gun and killed John Shoultz Jr. because she was afraid and wanted to help John Aaron Shoultz. She told Travis she later told police the truth - that Shoultz shot and killed his father and then hid the handgun.
The case is expected to last the rest of this week.
|John Shoultz Jr.
||John Shoultz III
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