Woman gets 13 to 16 months in prison for shooting death of ex-husband
Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 30, 2011
By Shavonne Potts
SALISBURY — Elizabeth Myers, a Rowan County woman who shot her ex-husband to death in 2005, said she feared him and only fired in self-defense. A judge sentenced her to less than two years in prison after she pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter.
Myers, now 55, entered an Alford plea Wednesday morning in Rowan Superior Court. It brought to an end the oldest pending Rowan County murder case.
An Alford plea allows the defendant the benefit of a plea deal without admitting guilt, acknowledging there is sufficient evidence to convince a jury of his or her guilt at trial.
Myers told authorities she shot Edward “Ed” Eugene Shepherd, 52, multiple times in the chest with a 9-mm handgun.
He’d entered her mobile home, which was near High Rock Lake, uninvited.
Judge Joe Crosswhite sentenced Myers to 13 months to 16 months in prison. She was given credit for the six months she spent in the Rowan County jail after the Oct. 24, 2005, shooting. She’s been out of jail since 2006.
Before the hearing, Crosswhite explained to Myers the maximum sentence he could issue was 59 months, or less than five years.
According to her statement to investigators, Myers said her ex-husband tried to force himself on her that night.
“He told her he just wanted quick sex,” District Attorney Brandy Cook read from Myers’ statement in court.
When Shepherd told Myers to go to her bedroom to “get ready,” she returned with the pistol.
When Shepherd came at her, Myers shot him in the chest.
“He kept coming at me so I shot him again,” she said in a statement to law enforcement.
He fell to the floor at the door. Shepherd grabbed for Myers’ ankle as she tried to step over him, and that’s when Myers turned and shot him several more times.
The medical examiner’s results showed there were at least 10 bullets fired, some entered multiple points on the body. Shepherd was not armed.
After Myers called 911 to say she’d just shot her ex-husband, she waited at the home and placed the gun on a picnic table outside.
Cook said had there been a trial, a former girlfriend would have testified that Shepherd tried to throw the girlfriend out of a window while she was a patient at a hospital.
Myers read a statement in court, recounting years of abuse.
Her hands shaking, she recalled an incident when a co-worker mistakenly referred to marks on her neck as hickeys. Myers jokingly told the co-worker they were “passion” marks when in fact they were choke marks.
She said her ex-husband often choked her until she passed out and a few times she was so scared she urinated on herself.
When her second husband, James Allen Myers, died of cancer in 2003, she said, Ed Shepherd approached her at the funeral to inquire what she would do now that her “protector was gone.”
Court statements revealed Shepherd had been arrested for possession of a meth lab more than 20 years ago.
He had issues with drugs and alcohol, his brother, Ken said.
Although he was never a direct witness to the abuse, Ken Shepherd said he once saw bruises on Myers and his brother.
He also knew at one point Myers and his nieces stayed at a battered women’s shelter for six months when the girls were young.
Ken said he wanted Myers, who many called “Libby,” to realize “how badly she destroyed” their families.
He said his brother was far from an angel, but her shooting of him was “overboard.”
Ken said whatever his nieces wanted, his brother bought. The twins would later tell the court their father tried to buy their love.
Ken told the court his brother was sober and regularly went to alcohol/narcotics anonymous meetings.
Ed Shepherd’s sister-in-law and Ken’s wife said with Myers behind bars, they could finally rest.
“Punish the person that took Ed from us,” she told the judge.
Another brother, Jim, did not speak. Overcome with emotion, he momentarily left the courtroom.
Myers’ attorney Michael Adkins, told the court his client was taking multiple medications for a number of illnesses and ailments that include migraines, chronic fatigue syndrome, bipolar disorder and lupus — an auto-immune disease that causes pain, inflammation and tissue damage. She also suffers from fibromyalgia, a disease that causes pain and tenderness in the muscles. Myers also has chronic lower back pain, post traumatic stress disorder as well as asthma.
Her numerous medications — past and present — include Demerol, Xanax and lithium.
Adkins said while in jail, Myers suffered psychosis and hallucinations. She thought her ex-husband was still alive and had tampered with her medications. She has since returned to regular regimen of medications and doctor visits.
“She didn’t have a choice. She shot him until he went down and then she tried to get away,” Adkins said.
Adkins talked about Shepherd’s size compared to his client.
Myers, at less than 5-foot-2, was no match for Shepherd, who court statements showed was more than 6 feet tall.
Adkins said his client had the right to feel safe in her own home.
Myers’ family, including her twin daughters, Lisa and Amy, said their father emotionally and physically abused their mother for years.
The women, now 30, each told of incidents that occurred to them as children and into adulthood of the abuse their father inflicted upon them. Reading from statements, both women recalled the insults and their father slapping Amy, who fell to the ground.
“I needed a dad to support me, to tell me I’m special. Instead I got a dad that told me I was stupid and would not be nothing,” Amy said.
The women asked that their mother not be taken from them.
“This is one of the most difficult cases I’ve ever had to hear,” Judge Crosswhite said.
He told Myers he hoped no one ever has to go through what she went through, but what bothered him was that she shot Shepherd while he was down.
Myers had no prior criminal record, only two traffic tickets. Upon her release from prison, Myers is not to have contact with anyone from the Shepherd family.
“The family of Edward Shepherd deserved closure in this particular case. They have been waiting for a disposition for six years. When taking office in January, this case was a priority for our office to thoroughly review the competent and admissible evidence in order for us to make an informed decision on how to proceed. By working closely with Ed’s brothers and other family members, we were able to resolve the case to their satisfaction,” Cook said in a statement.
Myers’ daughters declined comment after the hearing.
“Thank God it’s over,” a members of the victim’s family could be heard saying.
“After all these years,” another family member said after leaving the courtroom.
Contact Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.