HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Jacob Shaffer beat a Huntsville man to death in 2009 then hitched a ride to Lincoln County, TN where he killed 5 more people. He’s now pleaded guilty to the Madison County murder.
Shaffer admitted to the killing of Sidney Dempsey on Orchard Street in Huntsville 3 years ago.
Shaffer’s guilty plea ensures he will never face the death penalty, but instead the chance of 6 life terms without the possibility of parole.
Madison County Assistant District Attorney Jay Town and Assistant DA Thomas Glover had sought the death penalty for Shaffer in the killing of Sidney Dempsey, arguing that the crimes were related since Shaffer told Tennessee investigators he killed Dempsey to prepare himself for the murders in Clinton County a few hours later.
The Alabama death penalty case lost momentum last fall when Shaffer’s attorneys successfully argued Shaffer’s rights were violated when investigators continued to question him after he’d asked for an attorney.
Shaffer’s admission to the beating of Sidney Dempsey was ruled inadmissible.
“Unfortunately, the current state of our Miranda Laws, when the confession was suppressed there really was not evidence sufficient to pursue a death verdict. We were never lacking confidence in a capital murder verdict on just a guilt phase but as far as getting the death penalty, once you lose the aggravating factors of his confession, the reasons why he did it and the motives behind it, that put us out of the game,” said Town.
The aggravating factors being Shaffer’s admission are that he used a stun gun to disable Dempsey before beating him to death.
“Jacob Shaffer deserves the death penalty. it’s unfortunate the state of Alabama is unable to give it to him,” said Town.
Shaffer won’t be put to death in Alabama, but Town says he won’t hurt anyone again.
“When he is adjudicated here in Alabama he will be transferred back to Tennessee and he’l draw his last breath in a state of Tennessee penitentiary,” said Town.
Jacob Shaffer waived his right to appeal as part of his plea deal,
but by Alabama law he is still due to appear before a jury.
Shaffer’s mini-trail is scheduled for Apr. 29.