(BLOOMFIELD) - A Linton man accused of fatally shooting Michael Shan Bowers in April, has retained a private attorney and the Greene County Public Defender's Office has bowed out of the case.
32-year-old Aaron Schaffer was formally charged with felony murder and carrying a handgun without a license on April 23. During his initial hearing he entered a not guilty plea.
The Greene County Daily World reports that Schaffer told the judge he had been employed at Crane Army Ammunition Activity for the past 11 years as an explosives operator and was making more than $21 an hour. He also receives a disability check from the Veterans Administration in the amount of $1,835.
The judge said considering the level of the offense, he would appoint public defender James Riester to represent him, but cautioned Schaffer that he might be required to pay the county back for his legal expenses.
On May 9, Criminal Defense Attorney Katharine Liell of Bloomington filed her appearance to represent Schaffer. Court records show that on May 15, the public defender withdrew from the case. Schaffer is being held without bond in the Greene County Jail and a jury trial is scheduled for September.
Schaffer turned himself in at the Linton Police Department the night of the shooting and admitted to firing five shots from a .357 Taurus revolver, killing Bowers.
Schaffer and 48-year-old Bowers, both from the Linton area, had been at Reservoir 26 for a family Easter gathering earlier in the day, along with numerous other extended family members and children.
Those attending the gathering told police that family members were drinking, but everyone was getting along except for Bowers and his wife Stacy Bowers. Bowers left the gathering sometime between 3:30 and 5 p.m. Stacy Bowers told police her husband seemed upset and he didn't tell her why he left.
Stacy Bowers then arranged to get a ride home with Schaffer. On the way to Bowers' home, Schaffer stopped and dropped his wife and children off and then stopped at the Country Porch where Schaffer asked Stacy to buy him a pack of cigarettes. While she was in the store, Schaffer left and returned about 15 minutes later.
That is when Schaffer told her he had shot and killed her husband. He then asked her to go to the police station with him. She refused, got out of the car and found a ride to her parent's home.
The shooting took place in a gravel driveway outside the Bowers home. There were no other witnesses at the home at the time of the shooting, and police say Bowers was unarmed.
Stacy Bowers told the detective there were no handguns in their home, but her husband did have a long gun under the bed.
At the scene, officers did locate two guns under a bed in the home, but both were in cases and not loaded.
In his first interview with police, Schaffer said he had agreed to take Stacy Bowers home after the gathering and based on Bowers' history, he believed there might be a problem when he went to the Bowers home, so he picked up a handgun from his house and put it in a cargo pocket.
Schaffer allegedly said he anticipated Bowers might be upset with Stacy Bowers because Schaffer's brother had asked her to go on a motorcycle ride and so he (Schaffer) decided to leave Stacy Bowers at the store and go talk to Bowers alone.
Schaffer said when the two men spoke at the Bowers residence, Bowers told Schaffer to leave the property, then Bowers went inside and Schaffer started to walk away.
Schaffer told police he then heard Bowers come back outside and say he would shoot Schaffer if he ever came back on the property and if Schaffer turned around that he would shoot him in the face.
Schaffer told police he then turned around, knelt to the ground and fired three shots at Bowers from a distance, then stood up, advanced on Bowers and fired two more rounds, continuing to pull the trigger even after he had fired all the rounds.
Schaffer admitted that he did not see Bowers with any weapons.
Later in the night during a second interview, Schaffer told police that he got his gun while at his home because he knows Bowers and what he was capable of doing -- that Bowers had killed another man in the past. Schaffer said he wanted to be prepared. He said he wanted to talk to Bowers by himself, and he didn't feel Bowers would listen to Stacy Bowers. He also said he thought he was on good terms with Bowers.
Schaffer said he told Bowers that Stacy Bowers did not go on the ride, but Bowers then made a remark about her and told Schaffer to get off the property.
Schaffer allegedly said that when he heard Bowers say the word "shoot" he did not hesitate, grabbed his gun from his pocket, spun, dropped to a knee and fired even though he did not see Bowers with a weapon.
Schaffer told police the biggest factor in the shooting was that Bowers had shot someone before. He also said he shot like he was trained in the military -- to shoot until your weapon is empty, and that he didn't need to look for weapons or take warning shots as this might result in Schaffer getting shot.
Schaffer said he had a cell phone when he shot Bowers, but did not call 911 for 20 to 25 minutes because he was in shock and freaked out and he assumed Bowers was dead.
Schaffer also reportedly admitted that he does not have a handgun permit that allows him to carry a handgun on his person outside of his property or vehicle.
Dr. Roland Kohr performed Bowers' autopsy at Terre Haute Regional Hospital. Seven gunshot wounds were located in Bowers' body. In a preliminary autopsy report, Kohr listed the cause of death as gunshot wounds to the head, abdomen, and chest.
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