Prosecutors claim former Homewood pastor killed wife to start ne - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Prosecutors claim former Homewood pastor killed wife to start new life with boyfriend

Source: Jefferson County Jail Source: Jefferson County Jail
Karen Shahan. Karen Shahan.
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

In a Thursday court hearing, state prosecutors claimed former Homewood pastor Richard Shahan murdered his wife so that he could start a new life with his boyfriend.

Richard Shahan, 53, is accused of killing his wife Karen Shahan in their Homewood home in July 2013.

Police charged Shahan with causing his wife's death by "stabbing or cutting" her with a sharp object, but Deputy District Attorney Laura Poston said Thursday that Shahan violently stabbed his wife with a knife.

Prosecutors said Thursday they believe Shahan wanted to escape the country to start a new life and marry his boyfriend. They say when he was arrested at the Nashville International Airport before boarding a flight to Germany on Jan. 1, he was carrying $27,000 in various currencies, including Euros, pounds and Kazakh money.

Prosecutors say they've obtained 3,000 of Shahan's emails, including messages that indicate Shahan planned to go to Russia and eventually become a citizen in the U.K.

Shahan's defense team the judge for a bond, contending that Shahan is not a flight risk. They also accused the state of trying to "orchestrate" evidence in the murder case.

Judge Shelly Watkins granted Shahan a bond of $100,000 with house arrest and electronic monitoring. If he bonds out of the Jefferson County Jail, he will have to live under house arrest with his mother in Homewood.

The judge ruled Shahan cannot have his passport back, but any other personal possessions not covered by the search warrant will be returned to him. Authorities seized Shahan's luggage, clothes, laptop, thumb drives and an iPad when he was arrested at the airport.

Watkins also ordered that the state return any U.S. currency that was confiscated from Shahan at the time of his arrest, as well as any clothes that are not connected to the investigation.

Shahan was the former children and families pastor for First Baptist Church in Homewood. He was placed on administrative leave after his wife's death and formally resigned from his position on Dec. 31, 2013, the day before his arrest.

Homewood police detained Shahan for about 48 hours for questioning early on in their investigation, but released him without charging him. A warrant accusing Shahan of his wife's murder was signed on Dec. 31, 2013.

Homeland Security ICE agents took Shahan into custody the next day as he was trying to board a plane for Germany in Nashville. Homewood's police chief said Shahan appeared "shocked" to be pulled out of line and detained.

Shahan's attorneys claim he was leaving the country for a three-year mission trip that had been widely publicized. His defense maintains that he would have turned himself in if he had known that there was a warrant out for his arrest.

Thursday's hearing covered Shahan's bond, returning personal property and preserving evidence in the case.

Assistant DA Poston said prosecutors were not planning to discuss Shahan's motive for murder Thursday because they were hoping the bond hearing would have been combined with Shahan's preliminary hearing. But when Judge Watkins forced the issue of whether or not Shahan should be released on bond, prosecutors decided to go ahead and make their claim that Shahan planned to flee the country and marry his boyfriend.

Shahan's preliminary hearing has been set for Feb. 5.

Copyright 2014 WBRC. All rights reserved.

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