By Frank Lewis
August 30, 2013
PDT Staff Writer
A jury deliberated for four Hours Thursday before returning a not guilty verdict in the murder trial of Terry V. Shepherd, 36, of 376 Dodds Rd., Otway. Shepherd had been charged in the shooting death of another Otway man, Carl Douglas Tackett Jr., 30, of 1692 Bear Creek Rarden Road.
The incident reportedly occurred on March 8, 2012 on the Shepherd property, where an argument ensued. That argument reportedly escalated into a shooting. Shepherd’s attorney, Tracy Hoover of Portsmouth, had defended the shooting as self defense.
“This was absolutely self defense and in the defense of another,” Defense Attorney Tracy Hoover said. “This (Shepherd) family has five children which he has tried his best to rear in tough times in Scioto County. When that home gets attacked and there are children there - he takes care of these children. They had just come home from the school bus, and the man (Shepherd) was the caretaker of the children. He wasn’t just a babysitter, he’s the one that provided the home environment for them. Five children, all within the confines of a house trailer, and Dougie Tacket, Jr., a former friend, shows up there with some brass knuckles and is going to attack him. And he (Shepherd) runs in the house and gets a gun. And there’s a dispute whether the guy (Tackett) was in the doorway, at the doorway, or how far down the trailer the guy was when he was shot. That’s the disputed facts.”
Hoover said the jury simply reacted to the facts that came out in the case.
“The jury of 11 women and one man agreed with us,” Defense Attorney Tracy Hoover said. “They just felt his fear, and when they felt his fear, they understood his reaction. They worked so hard, and we did this case just as briefly as we possibly could.”
Hoover said his client was facing 25 years to life if the jury had found him guilty, and with a firearms specification, it probably would have meant at least 28 years in prison.
“His (Shepherd) former friend (Tackett) came up there to attack the home, and he (Shepherd) just reacted the way he did in defense of those kids,” Hoover said. “And he doesn’t have to go to prison. I thank God for all of that.”
With the outcome of Thursday’s verdict, and the Trayvon Martin shooting, the case of George Zimmerman, still fresh in their minds, opponents of an effort to make Ohio the newest “stand your ground” state are circulating petitions and preparing for a fight when state lawmakers return following the Labor Day weekend. Opposing House Bill 203, a gun bill that includes a “Stand Your Ground,” component are members of Ohio’s Legislative Black Caucus.
The sponsor of House Bill 203 is State Representative Terry Johnson (R-McDermott).
“When an Ohio citizen is in peril of serious bodily harm or even death at the hands of an attacker, his or her first duty should be self-defense, not a duty to retreat and hope for the best,” Johnson said. “The fact is that people who are confronted with life-threatening attacks often face a split-second decision, and Ohioans deserve to have clear laws that do not undermine our natural right to defend ourselves.”
Fifteen House Republicans have signed on to the bill, which had one committee hearing before the summer recess. Lawmakers return after Labor Day.
“We do not oppose the Second Amendment and the right to defend yourself,” said Rep. Alicia Reece, D-Cincinnati, president of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus. “But at the same time, we certainly have concerns with ‘stand your ground’ provisions that would allow something like what happened in Florida.”
At least 22 states have “stand your ground” laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
It was the second trial on that murder charge for Shepherd, who earlier had his trial declared a mistrial by Judge Howard H. Harcha III when a juror reportedly didn’t realize he knew one of the witnesses until that witness was called to testify. In addition to that situation, there was another incident where one of the witnesses for the state, one of the victim’s family who had gestured to one of the jurors, either as she was coming or going, making the juror feel uncomfortable. Scioto County Prosecutor Mark Kuhn said the juror was just calling attention to the fact that the jury was coming back into court. Hoover said the Prosecutor’s office gave the case a lot of work and did a good job.
“I know they did as professional a job as you could find anywhere in the state of Ohio,” Hoover said. “Judge Harcha tried to provide the proper setting for a very stressful trial.”
Hoover also gave thanks to another family member.
“His mother Linda prayed for us, and I really think this was the answer to her prayers,” Hoover said. “Thank God. I’m just overjoyed for the Shepherd family, and I hope the victim’s family is able to recover from this.”
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.