HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Jacob Shaffer appeared before a Madison County judge on Tuesday as his lawyers tried to get his reported confession kept out of his upcoming trial.
Shaffer is charged with the 2009 murder of Sidney Wade Dempsey. Investigators say Shaffer killed Dempsey in Huntsville and then hitched a ride to Lincoln County, Tennessee where he killed his estranged wife, members of her family and a family friend.
Shaffer has already pleaded guilty to those murders, and is serving multiple life sentences. He reportedly confessed to the crime in Madison County during questioning with investigators in Tennessee.
In Tuesday’s hearing, Shaffer’s lawyers, Ron Smith and Corrie Collins, called Lincoln County Sgt. Bob Jones to the stand. They questioned him about statements he gathered from Shaffer at the Tennessee crime scene before reading Shaffer his Miranda Rights.
A dispatch audio recording was played for the court in which Sgt. Jones relayed information he said was offered by Shaffer, but Jones said he never asked for.
The defense then called Madison County Investigator Brent Patterson. Patterson testified he never understood Shaffer to expressly demand an attorney be present when Patterson and Investigator Eric Hammond questioned Shaffer in Tennessee.
Jay Town is prosecuting the case for the Madison County District Attorney’s office.
“This is typical tactic by defense counsel and it’s one that is necessary for them to implore,” said Town. “I think Fifth Amendment rights are absolutely important and I know this district attorney feels the same way, but we’re very fortunate to have professional law enforcement, they did everything right, they did read Mr. Shaffer his Miranda Rights which he waived and then gave a full confession to six murders so, we feel confident, this is a thorough judge, she knows the law. I do believe at the end of the day this will be in evidence at trial and during the sentencing portion under the state’s aggravated circumstance requirement.”
This motion is one of about 30 the defense has presented, on various aspects of the case. Judge Karen Hall said she would rule on the confession item by the end of the week.
Judge Hall has already denied a motion by Shaffer’s attorneys to dismiss the Madison County murder indictment altogether.
The Madison County District Attorney’s office is seeking the death penalty against Shaffer. The trial is set to begin October 29.