MURRAY—When he was last in Murray for a hearing involving a murder case in the community, Tim Kaltenbach made one thing clear.
The next time he came to Murray, the McCracken Circuit judge – who is handling special judge duties for the case of Murrayan Shannon Scott – was intending to set a trial date. His plans were fulfilled when Kaltenbach returned Wednesday morning.
Scott, who is accused in the deaths of two Murray women in February, will stand trial in his case on Sept. 8-25, 2020, after Kaltenbach set that date in Calloway Circuit Court Wednesday during a status hearing.
“The thing is that this allegedly happened in February of 2019, so I think there’s some urgency in beginning this trial,” Kaltenbach said in explaining his stance of seeking to move the case forward quickly. “Mr. Scott is entitled to a speedy trial and the alleged victims and their families are as well.”
Scott is charged with murder in the deaths of Tera Todd, 37, and Evelyn Scott, 77, both of Murray, on or about Feb. 7. They were discovered that night after a couple returning to a home on Catalina Drive found Todd deceased in their driveway. The Murray Police Department was then called to the scene and found Evelyn, also deceased, in a neighboring house.
According to MPD, Shannon was arrested after officers found him inside Evelyn’s home. He was taken to the Calloway County Jail, where he has remained incarcerated. Kaltenbach set the September 2020 date after learning from Calloway Assistant Commonwealth Attorney James Burkeen that it could be as many as 12 to 15 months for all evidence in the case to return from a crime laboratory. The evidence was submitted, which was in May.
“The impression I got, in talking to (lab officials) was that there are various steps they have to go through when it comes to biological and DNA testing. That’s where quite a bit of time is added to it,” Burkeen told Kaltenbach. “They have quite a bit to test. They also told me that, as the evidence is processed, they will be able to give us a better indication of how long that would take.”
Kaltenbach said he was not waiting for the lab to dictate the pace of this process.
“My experience with them is that if you don’t tell them that they’ve got a trial date and you don’t order them to do it, then they won’t do it,” he said, referring to something he has seen in cases with his home jurisdiction. “The main problem, historically, has been a lack of communication between the prosecutors and the labs.
“I don’t mean to be overbearing with (the labs), but I intend to keep this trial date.”
With that, Kaltenbach sent an order to Burkeen to inform the lab that a trial date was in place, which he said would be done quickly.
Kaltenbach also said that setting the trial so far ahead should allow both the prosecution and the defense enough time to prepare their cases. That is of particular importance for the defense because Shannon now has someone new representing him.
On Wednesday, Paducah attorney Doug Moore was revealed as Scott’s new counsel after a conflict of interest caused Shannon’s original counsel, Murray attorney Cheri Reidel, to withdraw. Reidel, a public defender, had represented Shannon in all of his previous court appearances in the case, including a competency hearing last month in which Kaltenbach found Shannon competent to stand trial. Moore said Wednesday that he had taken over Shannon’s case within the last week or so.
Moore, also a public defender, has also recently joined the defense team for the Gabriel Parker murder case in Marshall County, in which Parker is accused of killing two students and wounding 14 others in January 2018 at Marshall County High School in Draffenville.
Moore expressed some doubts as to whether he would have enough time to properly prepare for Shannon’s case if Kaltenbach had set an August trial date, explaining that he could have had as little as two weeks between the Parker trial and one for Shannon. The Parker trial is expected to last as long as six weeks in Hopkinsville.
“I don’t know that it takes the full six weeks, but once it starts, we know it’ll be a lengthy trial,” said Calloway Commonwealth Attorney Dennis Foust, explaining that a September or October trial date in Shannon’s case would work.
Another issue on Wednesday was determining if the Calloway County Judicial Building would work as a trial venue in September 2020. After lengthy discussion, it was determined that this could be handled; Calloway Circuit James T. Jameson, who recused himself before Scott was arraigned due to a conflict of interest in the case, will be consulted to determine how scheduling around normal court days would work. It is possible that the Calloway County Family Courtroom could be utilized at times when it is not in use.
Shannon is also charged with tampering with physical evidence, as well as second-degree cruelty to animals in this case. A dog, believed to Evelyn’s, was found deceased at the scene.
In addition, Shannon is also charged with theft by unlawful taking of an automobile $10,000 or more under $1 million. This is in connection to a vehicle that was reported stolen on Jan. 16 by Toyota of Murray. Kaltenbach set a review in that case for Oct. 2, 2020.
The final pre-trial conference in the murder case will be July 24, 2020, in Calloway Circuit.
Individuals facing charges are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.