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Man jailed after trial ends with hung jury

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Jurors fail to reach verdict after hours of conflicting, inflammatory testimony

By Ben Carlson

News staff

The man who once dubbed himself “Black Neck Chevy Johnson” on Facebook figured he was free to go last Wednesday after a jury couldn’t reach a unanimous decision on a charge that he beat up the mother of one of his children last June.

He wasn’t.

Just moments after District Court Judge Donna Dutton declared a hung jury, former Lawrenceburg resident David Shirley was handcuffed and hauled off to jail on an outstanding bench warrant from Franklin County for failing to pay child support.

Shirley’s arrest capped a day in court that featured him calling a woman who testified against him a “two-toned, highly aggravating [expletive],” declaring Kentucky a racist state and letting everyone in the courtroom know that, in his family, he is the “alpha male.”

Shirley was being tried on fourth-degree assault, domestic violence, from an incident that occurred last June at his mother’s house on Riva Ridge Drive in Lawrenceburg. Following a hours-long trial that was filled with conflicting testimony and nearly four hours of deliberation, the jury informed Dutton it could not reach a decision and Dutton scheduled a new trial for March.

Angry because the victim and their son were about to leave for a trip to Miami without his permission, Shirley allegedly beat her up in an attempt to keep her from going.

“He got their suitcase, dumped the clothes in the shower, punched her in the face and slammed her head into the wall again and again and again,” County Attorney Bobbi Jo Lewis said in her opening statements to the jury. “This is a case of the hidden war in America, domestic violence.”

Shirley’s attorney, Londa Adkins of the state’s public defender’s office, painted a much different picture in her opening remarks, portraying the victim as someone who concocted the story as an excuse for being late to work and was angry over being told she couldn’t go to Miami with a friend and her child.

“Today you’re going to hear something I like to refer to as, if momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy,” Adkins told the jury, adding that the victim had repeatedly arrived late for her job at a gas station in Frankfort.

“She was going to be late again … was this a last-ditch effort? She’s pouting, upset and mad and was going with or without his permission.”

Adkins went on to portray Shirley as a good father who was looking out for the best interest of the couple’s 1 1/2-year-old child.

“He’s a very good dad,” Adkins said of the man who, during a preliminary hearing last August, told Judge Dutton, “I have five children with five different women in five different counties. I ought to come with a warning label.”

After she was allegedly assaulted, the victim left the Riva Ridge home where she lived with Shirley’s mother, took the child and drove the couple’s car to Four Way Stop & Go, a convenience store at the intersection of Highway 151 and US 127 Bypass, where she called 911.

During a playing of the 911 call in court, she told police she was “fleeing” from a domestic violence incident and needed help.

Deputy Tony Likens of the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office was dispatched and the first officer to speak with the victim. During his testimony, he said the victim was crying and upset when he arrived but that he could not recall seeing any marks on her face, a sticking point that surfaced several times during other testimony.

Because the alleged incident occurred inside of city limits, Likens said he called the Lawrenceburg Police Department for backup and officer Nathan Doty responded, but not before spotting Shirley near Ritchie & Peach Funeral Home on North Main Street.

Doty said Shirley was walking toward 4 Way Stop & Go and when asked, denied there was any altercation. Shirley was arrested a short time later, however, when Doty said he interviewed the victim and saw marks on her face. Doty later said he did not photograph the marks because he didn’t have a camera in his patrol car, which sparked questions from Adkins who pressed him on why he didn’t take photos with his phone and questioned why the police never went to the Riva Ridge residence to verify that Shirley was throwing things around the house.

Doty also testified that while interviewing the victim, she told him she was afraid Shirley would beat her up again or kill her if released from custody, statements the victim later said she didn’t make “in those words.”

Photos of the victim’s face were taken but not until later that day by the victim’s work supervisor at the gas station. The supervisor went on to testify that the victim was often late for work and was later fired for her tardiness.

Stephanie Kent, a friend of the victim who was supposed to join them on their trip to Miami, testified that Shirley screened her phone calls to the victim and that the two often got into verbal arguments that she claims featured him calling her vulgar names.

Kent also testified that she was on the phone with Shirley during the alleged altercation in June, and that she could hear him beating her and the victim was screaming out and crying.

Shirley’s mother, Delores Shirley, also testified, saying that she didn’t see anything out of place at the home when she arrived later that day, nor had she ever seen anything physical between her son and his girlfriend during the time they lived with her despite the victim’s previous allegations of abuse.

“I taught him to never put his hands on a woman,” Shirley’s mother said.

The victim later testified that Shirley’s mother had witnessed an incident that including Shirley with his hands around her neck, “choking her out” before Delores Shirley separated them.

As the victim spoke, Delores Shirley appeared uneasy as she listened, at one point closing her eyes and putting her hand over her mouth.

Shirley’s time on the stand included a host of conflicting statements, including times he would contradict what he had already said.

“Do you refer to yourself as Black Neck Chevy Johnson?” Lewis asked Shirley.

“That’s one of my Facebook profiles, yes,” Shirley responded.

Lewis then began to question him about other Facebook posts, including that Kentucky is a racist state and the language he used while on the phone with the victim’s friend, Kent.

Shirley, when pressed to reveal the names he called Kent, said, “I use compound words and fractures, which is something I made up.”

He then went on to reveal that he called her a “two-toned highly aggravating [expletive], a statement Lewis later asked him if it was racist.

“No, she is a two-tone,” Shirley replied. “I call my sister a two-tone.”

“If I called you a two-tone, would that be racist?” Lewis asked.

“No, I’m not a two-tone,” Shirley responded.

Lewis later showed Shirley photos of the victim’s face, and he acknowledged seeing marks on her cheeks.

Asked by Lewis how they got there, Shirley said “anyone could have put them there.”

He also at one point testified that he didn’t enter the bathroom, where the altercation was said to occur, but later changed his testimony saying he could have.

Dutton said a new trial date for March 11 at 9 a.m. in Anderson District Court.

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