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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

PA- Man found guilty of killing son's alleged molester

11-18-2008 Pennsylvania:

ERIE -- A northwestern Pennsylvania man has been convicted of third-degree murder for shooting a man who was accused of molesting the suspect's 10-year-old son.

Terry Sherlock, 34, of Erie County, will face up to a 20- to 40-year prison sentence when he's sentenced Jan. 15 on the murder charge, and more time on four lesser charges including reckless endangerment.

Erie County prosecutors say Sherlock purposely shot and killed Kenneth Himrod, 28, on Nov. 20, while Himrod was being investigated on allegations he molested Sherlock's son.

Sherlock's attorney had argued at trial that Sherlock killed Himrod in a rage and should be convicted of the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter. Today, a jury agreed with prosecutors instead. ..News Source.. by

Earlier story:

Shooter asked police for help

11-17-2008 Pennsylvania:

About four hours before he fatally shot a man accused of child molestation, a heavily intoxicated Terry A. Sherlock indirectly threatened to kill someone else -- a city of Corry police officer in front of a house in Corry.

Sherlock used the term "body bag" to explain what the police would need once Sherlock got done firing away, according to testimony at Sherlock's homicide trial in Erie County Court.

The police officer on the scene, Patrolman Chad Carrier, testified he believed the threat was not serious, and that he never arrested Sherlock, but tried to get him mental help later that night.

Carrier's decision brought questions from Sherlock's lawyer, as well as from Judge Michael E. Dunlavey, who is presiding.

"You didn't think that was serious?" Dunlavey said to Carrier. "He threatened to shoot you."

Carrier said that Sherlock -- who was known to drink two cases of beer a day and smoke marijuana -- was intoxicated, and that his wife, Crystal L. Sherlock, was driving him around Corry that night.

"He was functioning," Carrier said, explaining why he did not arrest Sherlock for public drunkenness. "He was walking, talking. He wasn't puking. He wasn't driving."

Sherlock's drunken interaction with Carrier was one of several he had with police in the hours before he arrived at the Union Township trailer home of Kenneth C. Himrod -- who had been accused of molesting Sherlock's 10-year-old son -- and shot Himrod 10 times sometime after 3 a.m. on Nov. 20.

The interactions occurred between Sherlock and either the city of Corry police and the state police at Corry. In each instance, according to testimony, Sherlock told officers he was agitated that Himrod had not been charged with molesting his son. In each instance, the police said Sherlock was belligerent, with Sherlock telling the officers he would "take matters into his own hands."

And in each instance, according to testimony, the police let Sherlock go -- after Sherlock told them he would try to seek help.

"I did not place him under arrest," testified state police Trooper Matthew Wargo, who encountered Sherlock at the state police barracks after midnight on Nov. 20. "I knew he was, supposedly, as he claimed, seeking help."

No one at the trial, which resumes today, has presented evidence that any of the police officers in the case were accused of wrongdoing in how they handled the incidents with Sherlock. Evidence also showed that Sherlock, 34, was known to be prone to exaggeration and to frequent Corry-area bars, where he often got into fights.

At the same time, the way the police handled the events leading up to Himrod's death has created a unique situation at Sherlock's trial. Typically, police testify about the basics of a case -- how investigators collected evidence, for example, or whether the defendant talked to police.

In the Sherlock case, however, the interactions Sherlock had with police leading up to the shooting provide a look into his state of mind.

For the prosecution, Sherlock's statements to police show that he planned to kill Himrod, and that he committed a first-degree murder.

For the defense, the statements show that Sherlock, 34, was upset at Himrod, 28, and became angrier at the situation after the visits to the police turned out, in his estimation, to be fruitless. Sherlock, the defense is arguing, killed Himrod in a rage, and committed voluntary manslaughter.

The jury could start deliberating on the competing theories as early as today.

Confrontation in Corry

Terry Sherlock, an unemployed father of five, had been drinking for more than 11 hours when he and his wife showed up at a house in Corry about 11:20 p.m. on Nov. 19, according to testimony.

Carrier, the Corry police officer, said Sherlock was claiming that man at the house was selling pills to children, and that Sherlock said he wanted to help police investigate by buying the drugs himself.

If nothing happened as a result of the probe, Carrier said Sherlock told him, Sherlock would come back "locked and loaded" and police should bring a "body bag."

Sherlock said "he was going to take matters into his own hands," Carrier said.

Carrier said he did not take Sherlock's threat to shoot someone seriously because Sherlock was intoxicated and because Sherlock said he would only shoot if police did not let him buy the drugs -- a fanciful notion under the circumstances.

Carrier said Sherlock also talked about Himrod and the molestation case. Carrier said he told Sherlock that he would be "accountable for his actions" if something happened.

Sherlock left the scene in a van driven by his wife.

State police barracks

The Sherlocks drove to the state police barracks at Corry, on Route 6, where Trooper Wargo was manning the front desk. He testified that Crystal Sherlock telephoned the barracks at about 12:30 a.m. Nov. 20, and said her husband was complaining about a case involving his son. He said the Sherlocks arrived at the barracks about 12:50 a.m.

Terry Sherlock was "noticeably intoxicated," Wargo said. He said he also swore at him, and complained about the pace of the investigation of the molestation case, though Wargo said Sherlock did not name Himrod.

"He was adamant that we go arrest a subject that had violated his son," Wargo said.

He testified that he explained to Sherlock that the probe was ongoing, and he said he told him that another trooper, who was not present, was handling the case and could talk to Sherlock at another time.

"He stated he would take matters into his own hands," Wargo testified. He said Sherlock also told him "he did not need help, that it was his 10-year-old son who needed help."

Wargo said he and the Sherlocks talked about getting mental-health help for Terry Sherlock. Regarding the molestation case, Wargo said he told Terry Sherlock "anything he would do, he could possibly be in trouble with."

Crystal Sherlock, Wargo said, told him that her husband "would be fine, that the alcohol was talking. When he is sober, he is too tough to get help."

Terry Sherlock walked out of the barracks at about 1:30 p.m. Wargo said he sent out other troopers to find him.

Crystal Sherlock picked up her husband in the van. They headed to the police station in the city of Corry.

Calling Crisis Services

Carrier, the patrolman, was on duty. He testified that Sherlock called him first, and that the Sherlocks arrived at the police station at about 2 a.m. on Nov. 20. He said Terry Sherlock said he was having "issues with my son getting molested."

Sherlock, he said, told him he had just been at the state police barracks, "trying to get 302d" -- referring to an involuntary mental-health commitment, which falls under section 302 of the state's mental health act.

Sherlock still wanted to be committed, and taken to the mental-health unit at Millcreek Community Hospital, Carrier testified. He said he took the Sherlocks' car keys and got a representative from Erie County Crisis Services on the phone, and put Terry Sherlock on the line.

Carrier said he and the Sherlocks were waiting for someone from Crisis Services to drive from Erie to Corry to meet with Terry Sherlock. He said Sherlock changed his mind about the plans. Sherlock, Carrier said, now wanted to have his wife drive him to Millcreek Community Hospital so Sherlock could commit himself voluntarily.

The Sherlocks left the station at about 2:20 p.m. Carrier said he had no idea the Sherlocks had second set of keys to the van.

Crystal Sherlock never drove her husband to Millcreek Community Hospital. After leaving the Corry police station, she testified, she and her husband went to their residence on Plank Road. She said her husband pointed a loaded rifle at her face and demanded that she drive him to the trailer home of Kenneth Himrod, a trip of 18.8 miles.

The couple drove off. ..News Source.. by ED PALATTELLA

Sherlock convicted
11-18-2008 Pennsylvania:

Jury chooses 3rd-degree murder for shooter

Throughout the three days of testimony in the trial of Terry A. Sherlock, the jury never heard the prosecution or the defense ask for a verdict of the third-degree murder.

That's the fate the jury picked for Sherlock -- a verdict the prosecution and defense described as a compromise.

The 34-year-old Corry resident now faces a maximum of 20 to 40 years in a state prison for fatally shooting a man who had been accused of molesting Sherlock's 10-year-old son.

The jury reached its verdict Tuesday, after about six hours of deliberations over two days in the courtroom of Erie County Judge Michael E. Dunlavey.

He set sentencing for Jan. 15 for Sherlock, who was also found guilty of four other charges, including aggravated assault.

Sherlock gunned down Kenneth C. Himrod, 28, at Himrod's Union Township trailer home sometime after 3 a.m. on Nov. 20, or about a month after Sherlock learned of the molestation allegations against Himrod.

With the agreement of the District Attorney's Office and defense, Dunlavey before the deliberations instructed the jury on three possible verdicts for homicide -- first-degree murder, third-degree murder or voluntary manslaughter.

The District Attorney's Office wanted Sherlock convicted of first-degree murder. The defense said Sherlock was guilty of voluntary manslaughter. The third-degree murder conviction represented a blend of both theories.

The jury of nine women and three men, who left the courtroom immediately after the verdict, appeared to agree that Sherlock acted with malice in killing Sherlock, but that the slaying did not rise to the level of first-degree murder. But the jurors also declined to accept the defense's full argument that Sherlock acted out of rage, which would have made the killing tantamount to voluntary manslaughter.

Though neither the prosecution nor defense raised the possibility of third-degree murder during the trial, the evidence made such a conviction a possibility -- thus requiring Dunlavey to instruct the jury on the charge.

Under Pennsylvania law, a first-degree murder can be reduced to third-degree murder if the jury finds the defendant acted with a diminished mental capacity due to such circumstances as a mental defect or intoxication.

Sherlock's court-appointed attorney, Jamie Mead, presented evidence that both those factors were present when Sherlock shot Himrod 10 times, including three times in the face, with a .22-caliber rifle.

A psychiatrist testified for the defense that Sherlock suffered from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder because he was sexually molested as a child. Mead presented evidence that Sherlock, who was unemployed, was an alcoholic who drank as many as two cases of beer a day and also used marijuana. Sherlock had been drinking nearly 12 hours straight until about three hours and 30 minutes before the shooting, according to testimony.

Mead also called the third-degree murder conviction a compromise. Mead is a shareholder of the Times Publishing Company, which publishes the Erie Times-News.

Sherlock did not testify. Mead throughout the trial argued that Sherlock should not have killed Himrod, but that he acted out of a sudden passion, and a concern for his son's safety, rather than coldblooded premeditation.

Sherlock is at Erie County Prison.

One of the defense's key pieces of evidence was that Sherlock hours before the shooting sought mental help at the city of Corry police station and the state police barracks at Corry. The police also said Sherlock complained to them about the pace of the investigation into the allegations against Himrod, and he told police he would handle matters himself.

For the defense, the interactions with police showed Sherlock's fury. For the prosecution, they showed premeditation.

The District Attorney's Office throughout the trial focused on the evidence surrounding Sherlock's slaying of Himrod, but an underlying theme was also at work for Connelly, the lead prosecutor, and Chief Deputy District Attorney Jack Daneri, who also prosecuted.

They told the jury that Sherlock or any other aggrieved person is never justified in taking the law into his or her hands.

Citing that stance against vigilantism, the District Attorney's Office from the start of the Sherlock case wanted to pursue a conviction for first-degree murder, said Assistant District Attorney Erin Connelly, the lead prosecutor.

"Our office could never agree that this should happen," she said of Himrod's death at the hands of Sherlock. "To allow this would allow chaos." ..News Source.. by Ed Palattella

PA- Killer's wife pleads guilty in slaying near Union City

12-5-2008 Pennsylvania:

Corry woman pleaded guilty to a reduced count today in a case in which she was originally charged with helping her husband kill an accused child molester.

Crystal L. Sherlock, 36, pleaded guilty to the second-degree felony of conspiracy to commit aggravated assault. She faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison at her sentencing Feb. 4 before Erie County Judge Michael E. Dunlavey, who accepted her plea.

Sherlock's husband, Terry A. Sherlock, 34, was convicted at a jury trial in November of third-degree murder and other charges related to the fatal shooting of Kenneth C. Himrod, 28. Sherlock shot Himrod at the victim's trailer home on Route 8, in Union Township, outside Union City, on Nov. 20, 2007.

Himrod had been accused of sexually molesting Terry Sherlock's 10-year-old son.

State police initially charged Crystal Sherlock with homicide as an accomplice, based on her admissions that she drove her husband to and from Himrod's trailer.

Crystal Sherlock testified against her husband at trial. That cooperation, plus the outcome of Terry Sherlock's trial, led to the plea deal for Crystal Sherlock, the District Attorney's Office said in court.

The jury acquitted Terry Sherlock of conspiring with his wife to commit the homicide. ..News Source.. by Ed Palattella

PA- W.Pa. man gets prison for killing accused molester
1-15-2009 Pennsylvania:

ERIE, Pa.—A northwestern Pennsylvania man has been sentenced to 21 to 42 years in prison for fatally shooting a man accused of molesting the shooter's 10-year-old son.

Erie County Judge Michael Dunlavey gave 34-year-old Terry Sherlock, of Corry, the maximum sentence for third-degree murder and another one to two years for a weapons violation on Thursday.

Sherlock shot and killed 28-year-old Kenneth Himrod in November 2007 while Himrod was being investigated on allegations he molested Sherlock's son.

Sherlock's attorney argued at his November trial that he acted in rage and should have been convicted of the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter. The prosecution said he planned to kill Himrod. ..News Source.. by

1 comment:

Heather said...

Ken Himrod was an amazing father friend and human being...this wouldnt have happened(murder) if cops would have done their job...He is greatly missed by many..the perpetrators deserve to be shot in the same manner..God bless Kenny