ISP troopers and GCSD deputies provide security when jury returns verdict of not guilty in murder trial

Friday, March 13, 2015
Aaron L. Schaffer

Aaron L. Schaffer was found not guilty of murder and not guilty of voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of Michael Shan Bowers last April.

Schaffer was found guilty of carrying a firearm without a concealed carry permit, a class A misdemeanor.

Tension was high in the crowded courtroom on Friday evening when the verdicts were announced, with family and friends of the victim on one side of the room and family and friends of the defendant on the other.

At least five Indiana State Police Troopers were positioned in the courtroom along with at least six deputies from the Greene County Sheriff's Department in addition to courthouse security personnel in the building.

Clearly shaken and stunned by the decisions, the victim's family and friends exited the courtroom abruptly as soon as the first two verdicts were read by Greene Circuit Court Judge Erik C. Allen.

While some officers remained in the courtroom, troopers and deputies moved to hallways and areas surrounding the courthouse to provide security to jurors as they left the building and walked to their vehicles, as well as all others leaving the courthouse.

Defense Attorney Katharine Liell requested an immediate sentencing on the misdemeanor charge and Greene County Prosecutor Jarrod Holtsclaw agreed. Schaffer was sentenced to one year in jail and since he has been incarcerated without bond since his arrest at the time of the shooting, he has more than served his time. His sentencing included a $1 fine and court costs.

Following the sentencing, Schaffer was to return to the Greene County Jail to be processed out to be reunited with his family and supporters, a free man.

Every seat was also taken in Greene Circuit Court on Friday morning when attorneys presented their closing arguments to jurors seated in Schaffer's trial.

When Schaffer was interviewed by detectives the night of the shooting, he admitted he did not have a license to carry a gun, and he admitted he shot and killed Bowers, his brother-in-law, but said he shot Bowers in self-defense.

The trial began early Monday morning with jury selection. Twelve individuals were seated along with two alternates. Both the prosecution and defense made their opening statements Monday afternoon. Witness testimony began on Tuesday morning and continued through Thursday. When court reconvened on Friday morning, closing arguments were presented and the judge gave lengthy instructions to members of the jury, then sent them back to the jury room to begin their deliberations around noon.

At approximately 6:30 p.m. Friday, they returned to the courtroom with their verdicts.

During his closing argument, Greene County Prosecutor Jarrod Holtsclaw told the jury there should be no doubt that Schaffer was guilty of the misdemeanor -- he admitted he carried a handgun away from his home and admitted he did not have a permit.

There was also no doubt that Schaffer shot and killed Bowers but the jury had to decide if Schaffer acted in self-defense.

Holtsclaw said to claim self-defense, Schaffer should be in a place where he was supposed to be, did not provoke a fight, was in fear of death and did not use excessive force.

Answering the question of whether or not Schaffer was justified in shooting Bowers, Holtsclaw said Schaffer was not in a place he had a right to be, Schaffer was told to leave, and told again. Holtsclaw said the defendant was at fault by instigating the incident -- he went to the Bowers home unannounced, and brought a gun.

Holtsclaw said Schaffer did not have a reasonable fear -- he and Bowers had been on friendly terms earlier in the day, Schaffer chose to go to the Bowers home, and the defendant said he never saw Bowers with a weapon, yet Schaffer continued to shoot after Bowers was down.

Holtsclaw said Shan Bowers did not go seeking out this confrontation, the defendant did. He said Shan Bowers was minding his own business in his own home. Schaffer was trespassing, in possession of a gun.

Holtsclaw argued that Schaffer used more force than was necessary to eliminate any threat.

"When the danger ceases, so does the right of self-defense," said Holtsclaw. "Multiple shots undercuts a claim of self-defense."

Holtsclaw said Schaffer fired the first shot based on a verbal threat, but words are not enough for a claim of self-defense, and Schaffer did not see Bowers with a weapon.

"You must justify all of the shots," said Holtsclaw. "Shan turned away, but the defendant kept firing, marching toward him, while Shan had his hands up." Holtsclaw said Schaffer continued to fire the gun even after it was empty.

In her closing argument, Liell told the jury this case was all about walking in another man's shoes. She said Schaffer knew Shan Bowers had killed another man out of jealousy, had beaten his wife, did drugs and drank alcohol, and had become increasingly unstable in the weeks prior to the shooting.

Liell told the jury to look at this through Schaffer's eyes and ask if it was reasonable to assume Bowers would shoot Schaffer if he turned around. She said Schaffer had a split second to make a decision and it was reasonable to think Bowers would kill him because he'd killed a man before.

The defense claimed Schaffer had an invitation from Stacy to go to the Bowers home because she had asked for help and wanted someone to go with her to smooth things over with her husband.

"Aaron honorably took the dirty job, he stepped up to the plate and was going to take her home and help her," she said.

Liell said Schaffer left Stacy at the station to minimize risk -- he left her there as a precaution. She told the jury Schaffer tried to be a peacemaker and was a man of reason that night. She said Shan Bowers put Aaron Schaffer in a darned if you do and darned if you don't position and Schaffer protected himself.

She explained the calmness shown by Schaffer in the hours following the shooting as the calmness of a combat veteran.

Liell argued it was reasonable to take Bowers at his word, that he would shoot Schaffer, that it was reasonable to assume Bowers had a gun, and the threat was an arm's length away when Schaffer turned and fired. She said he was in a kill or be killed situation.

After quoting Scripture, Liell told the jury Schaffer was standing righteous by turning himself in and telling the truth.

During Holtsclaw's rebuttal, he asked what choice Schaffer had but to turn himself in -- Stacy knew, his wife knew, the store clerk knew, his whole family knew he'd been out to the Bowers home, and Schaffer knew Shan Bowers was dead in the driveway.

Holtsclaw told the jury that had Schaffer simply dropped Stacy Bowers off, Shan Bowers would still be alive. He said Shan Bowers wasn't looking for a fight that night and he had every right to tell Schaffer to get off his property.

"He (Shan Bowers) was doing something each and every homeowner has a right to do, and for that he got shot five times," said Holtsclaw.

Holtsclaw ended by reminding the jury that Schaffer had told the detective that he was in a black rage during the shooting.

Holtsclaw said when Schaffer was interviewed, Schaffer said, "Once I finally came out of the black rage or whatever it was that I was in," he realized Shan Bowers didn't have a weapon and his hands were over his head.

"He (Aaron Schaffer) was taking advantage of an opportunity to get rid of a problem," said Holtsclaw.

When the jury went into deliberations they could find Schaffer guilty of murder, or not guilty. If they found him not guilty of the murder, then they could find him guilty or not guilty of voluntary manslaughter, a class B felony. They also needed to determine the verdict of guilty or not guilty on the misdemeanor charge.

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  • Sounds as if the Prosecutor was in the right frame of mind, and the jury held a biased opinion. Maybe, the Schaffer family will have to "stand in the shoes" of the Bowers family one day.

    -- Posted by Logicalnoise on Fri, Mar 13, 2015, at 10:05 PM
  • *

    I think this was an excellent verdict. finally a reasonable jury actually listened and didn't convict just because. I know a little of this situation, also know of Shan Bowers killing the man years ago when he tripped, fell yet with pinpoint accuracy shot the young man. I believe the right actions were taken by Schaffer and a good correct verdict was read. Maybe this has a little bit of karma attached to it as well. Many thought Bowers was guilty years ago and got away with it then, this time he didn't get away with it. Congratulations Mr. Schaffer.

    -- Posted by Jeff Hall on Fri, Mar 13, 2015, at 11:47 PM
  • it is sad to see this outcome .this man should be in jail . all this is a open window for everybody in greene county to think they cane kill anyone they want. I will keep this in mind when someone starts trouble at my house. cause in greene county Indiana you can kill somebody but you can't drink and drive or have drugs or any other petty crime without doing time. this is pre meditated murder if you ask me. but the jury is only told about the bad parts about shan. nobody can tell all the bad about aaron. and also I am relatated to the sisters and know the environment they was raised in. by their dad. YEA I DO REMEMBER BILL, I SAW ALOT OF IT.

    -- Posted by r2297 on Sat, Mar 14, 2015, at 12:16 AM
  • It looks like the jury did it's job in this situation. I have absolutely no knowledge of either side and from what was written, understanding, not ALL evidence is allowed, there seems to have been a bit of justice served in Greene County. Finally. Now let's work on some cold cases.

    -- Posted by MsUnderstood13 on Sat, Mar 14, 2015, at 7:23 AM
  • Prayers to both families. It must be extremely difficult for the two sisters. I wouldn't want to be in any of their shoes.

    -- Posted by lintonite on Sat, Mar 14, 2015, at 8:21 AM
  • Aaron Schaffer is more dangerous than the man he murdered. This verdict disgusts me. It will only be a matter of time before this man with a God complex harms someone else. It should not matter if the victim was a bad man. It does not give him the right to take someone's life. He stole this man from his family and friends. Absolutely disgusting .

    -- Posted by thewiseone on Sat, Mar 14, 2015, at 10:16 AM
  • the wise man Yadayadayada the jury speaks and they are usualy right

    -- Posted by MCM on Sat, Mar 14, 2015, at 12:25 PM
  • R2297 and Thewiseone, a jury of your peers spoke pretty loudly and disagree with you.

    -- Posted by Straight_Shot on Sat, Mar 14, 2015, at 1:36 PM
  • The jury was completely WRONG in this decision. Yes Aaron killed before and will again. And Jeff Hall ---Bowers did time for his actions and had kids and grandkids that love him so you are wrong as well!! This was no self defense!!

    -- Posted by greene co. citizen on Sat, Mar 14, 2015, at 1:50 PM
  • Greene co citizen, were u there? A jury of 12 people of different ages and gender found him not guilty. U will have to live with it. It wasn't 2 or 3 of them. ALL OF THEM

    -- Posted by Straight_Shot on Sat, Mar 14, 2015, at 2:19 PM
  • Amen, Straight_Shot.

    -- Posted by MrsRobinson on Sat, Mar 14, 2015, at 5:11 PM
  • Juries are not perfect. They convict innocent people and let guilty people go sometimes. This time a murderer was set free. He unloaded his gun into an unarmed man who had told him to leave his property several times. The jury unfortunately did not see the true Aaron Schaffer.

    -- Posted by greene co. citizen on Sat, Mar 14, 2015, at 5:15 PM
  • Really, he told him "several times". I believe he told him once. And he had permission from his sister in law. Once again, to be labeled a murderer, you must be convicted, which he was not.

    -- Posted by Straight_Shot on Sat, Mar 14, 2015, at 6:03 PM
  • Can anyone tell me how many of the jurors were men and how many were women?

    Just curious.

    -- Posted by quilter24 on Sat, Mar 14, 2015, at 6:44 PM
  • As has been said before, a jury of his peers has spoken.

    There was a case several years ago where a man was accused of murderer in the death of a toddler.It ended in a hung jury.

    I had a relative on that jury,therefore, I know why that trial ended the way it did.The jury has instructions before they start to deliberate.They have been presented with ALL evidence possible.Unless you were in the the courtroom every day and heard all evidence, and heard jury instruction, you have no idea how the jury came to their verdict.

    As in the case of the toddler, some evidence didn't match the child's injuries.People were upset because the man wasn't convicted,but, as my relative said, "That man

    didn't harm that child."The evidence didn't support the

    charge.Unless we were all at the scene or heard every word in the courtroom, we have to accept the verdict as it has been presented.

    to the child's injuries.

    -- Posted by graveytrain on Sat, Mar 14, 2015, at 8:01 PM
  • The seriousness of the verdict may be that the jury was poorly selected or some evidence was deemed inadmissible, either way a unarmed man was killed on his own property, by a man illegally armed.

    -- Posted by Concerned GCR on Sat, Mar 14, 2015, at 8:14 PM
  • The standard is the jury most likely heard all the negative about the deceased but no negative about the living shooter, however this man killed an unarmed man which is at minimum man slaughter, I would not want this man as a neighbor the coward might shoot you. The message of the deceased past for drugs and supposed abuse is illrellivent, he did Not physically attack the shooter, the shooter emptied the gun, military trained?? Seriously the military does a better job and would not want this type of weak cowardice. The shooter knowingly illegally took a weapon to another mans property and killed him, he did not center mass fire a single round to stop a threat, he slaughtered a man and it sounds like calmly planned out a story, outsmarted a jury and walked free. He is not just a coward, but cunning as well and that should scare Linton citizens.

    -- Posted by Concerned GCR on Sat, Mar 14, 2015, at 8:32 PM
  • Correct to be labeled a murderer one must be convicted of murder, that does not mean one is not a murderer, just not a convicted one. No different than any other free criminal not convicted of their crime. We now have one more free (not convicted) criminal in Linton. Any educated individual that read through this story could come to at minimum a man slaughter conviction, after all he emptied a illegally carried weapon into an unarmed man on that unarmed mans own property who did not live to tell his side, maybe he verbally threatened the shooter or maybe it was a well planned story and five shots guaranteed there was only one side told. Still no physical attack took place on the shooter, the shooter acted on words alone (or supposed words), words never constitute deadly force. One shot would have potentially been a different story, five was a guarantee there would be one story told.

    -- Posted by Concerned GCR on Sat, Mar 14, 2015, at 9:04 PM
  • Concerned GCR well said. We don't know if he was even threatened cause we are trusting the words of a murderer!!

    -- Posted by greene co. citizen on Sat, Mar 14, 2015, at 10:44 PM
  • Man slaughter: Murder but under legal mitigating factors. This is the minimum required verdict, he admitted he killed and convinced the jury it was a threatening mitigating factor, it is called man slaughter at minimum, again educating the jury prior to trial. Sad trial outcome for Greene County, I hope consideration for pursuing a civil lawsuit is next.

    -- Posted by Concerned GCR on Sat, Mar 14, 2015, at 11:53 PM
  • All stating karma: Educate yourself please, do your community a justice and practice your opportunity to develop with enough intellectual ability to produce an intelligent statement. And congratulations, seriously we are a community not only ok with killing unarmed people on their own property but we send out a congrats, you should feel disgust within yourself; unbelievable and undeniably foul. The unarmed could be anyone, literally this verdict is saying that if you go to another man or women's property and claim to feel threatened on someone else's property you can kill them..really. Neighbors of the shooter, watch your words, choose them wisely as you sit on your porch or walk in your yard, he carried a weapon illegally, so the law matters not and if he feels threatened by words he is now advocated, yes words not physical confrontation..

    -- Posted by Concerned GCR on Sun, Mar 15, 2015, at 12:15 AM
  • Way to go jury. Is this the kind of man you want walking the streets with your children?? Not me! He was obviously guilty of manslaughter.

    -- Posted by happygirl14 on Sun, Mar 15, 2015, at 8:56 AM
  • I honestly believe Mr. Bowers was dangerous and it was a matter of time before he hurt someone else again. I also know Mr. Shaffer is a dangerous man and it is just a matter of time before he hurts someone else again. I dont know how the jury found him to be completely innocent. You don't go on a person's property with a firearm and completely unload it with some of the shots being at close range if you are not going there to purposely murder someone. None of this makes sense. Like Paul Harvey said, come to Greene County if you want to get away with murder.

    -- Posted by grandma58 on Sun, Mar 15, 2015, at 2:03 PM
  • Everyone is entitled to their own opinion......and everybody has one.

    -- Posted by Miner momma 1 on Mon, Mar 16, 2015, at 6:51 AM
  • Concerned gcr you say you read everything. The amazing thing is that not everything was in the paper that was said at trial. Not even close to everything.

    -- Posted by Straight_Shot on Mon, Mar 16, 2015, at 7:23 AM
  • A jury of 12 citizens who were presented all the facts found Aaron Schaffer not guilty of murder. These jurors were not uninformed, biased, anonymous voices as you will find in this forum. I was at the trial and by closing it was so abundantly clear that this was not a murder that the prosecutor added the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter the night before the closing day of trial as a last chance of getting a conviction. There was absolutely no motive and it is absurd to think that Aaron Schaffer would throw away his life with his beautiful family, new born baby, great job, loving friends to take the life of someone widely known as a convicted murderer and violent drug addict, whom by the way, he was on good terms with. This was a clear case of self defense and was ruled so in a court of law. It is a terrible tragedy that Aaron was put in this situation to have to protect his wife's sister from her abusive husband. Anyone that knows Aaron personally knows he is a gentle man, a compassionate Christian, a loving husband and father and a great friend.

    -- Posted by AaronChandler on Mon, Mar 16, 2015, at 10:54 AM
  • Thank you,Mr.Chandler,for putting this issue into proper perspective for us all.

    -- Posted by graveytrain on Mon, Mar 16, 2015, at 11:26 AM
  • Approximately three-fourths of inmates in state prisons received publicly-provided legal counsel on the cases for which they were convicted and imprisoned.

    Would the verdict have been different with a public opinion is yes....just saying.

    -- Posted by shelby67 on Mon, Mar 16, 2015, at 1:21 PM
  • There was a jury of 12 people, but they were NOT presented all the facts. The defense was all innuendo and smears with no objection or rebuttal from the Prosecution. The victim was a father, grandfather, son, brother, cousin and friend - his family is mourning him all over again. The facts of the case were very clear and I cannot believe the verdict in this case. You cannot claim self defense when you: 1) do not have a right to be there (Stacy asked for a ride home, not an assassination of her husband), 2) are committing a crime (Schaffer was trespassing and carrying an unlicensed weapon) 3) are instigating the confrontation (Bowers left the party, didn't argue with anyone there and Stacy admitted she was NOT scared to go home).

    There was no honor or justice in Greene County Friday

    -- Posted by Moved Away on Mon, Mar 16, 2015, at 6:06 PM
  • Lets applaud Aarons attempt to let us all know he is intelligent. Again man slaughter at minimum should have been the verdict, by definition. Please grab a legal dictionary and educate yourself prior to chiming in. The jury very well may have been uninformed to legal definitions for the verdict, many; as you have misunderstand murder and man slaughter. Lastly being found innocent by a jury simply means on paper and recorded a jury found you not guilty, if you believe that is the same as not committing a crime you are foolish and the judicial system is stacked with those cases.

    -- Posted by Concerned GCR on Mon, Mar 16, 2015, at 7:07 PM
  • Biased straight shot, I am not basing comments on just the paper, I actually have heard from friends from both sides and one juror after the trial. Again facts state man slaughter, however the system failed in this case, the system is far from perfect.

    -- Posted by Concerned GCR on Mon, Mar 16, 2015, at 10:23 PM
  • I have heard from locals that contradicts the loving Christian story. I'd also read a comment stating the shooter may have claimed shooting an Iraqi civilian, I don't know if it was stated or made up, if it was stated you have a duty to turn that statement over to the security department of his employer, character would be in question for a clearance.

    -- Posted by Concerned GCR on Mon, Mar 16, 2015, at 10:31 PM
  • Shan did wrong years ago but he turned himself in, plead guilty, served his time, that's a man.

    Aaron is a coward.

    -- Posted by slaw on Tue, Mar 17, 2015, at 12:50 PM
  • Aaron Chandler, I have some ocean front property in Kansas I'd like to sell you, cheap.

    -- Posted by Jonace on Wed, Mar 18, 2015, at 11:53 AM
  • Aaron schaffers road to becoming a Criminal. Surely he has no security clearance, or shouldn't have.

    -- Posted by Concerned GCR on Wed, Mar 18, 2015, at 10:37 PM
  • Concerned GCR... The only thing I am "concerned" about is the amount of time you clearly have on your hands. You've repeated the same 5 points at least 20 times on two separate articles. We get it: your last name is Bowers.

    Amen Aaron Chandler!

    -- Posted by word of life on Wed, Mar 18, 2015, at 10:42 PM
  • Word of life: You are the typical fool, I have no relationship to either party. I am simply appalled by ignorance and a lost system continuing to fill our society with Criminals. I also have interest in the shooters clearance if he gets his job back on the base. I work with a lot of veterans and none of us feel pride in the military references to this shooter, disgust is more inline with the feelings. No relation, not best pals with either side, probably the least biased posting. But I will be making sure some references to deployment actions get some attention. You can't go around bragging of things without repercussions, character is in question with the statements made about a killing while deployed. No one normal brags of it if you've been there.

    -- Posted by Concerned GCR on Fri, Mar 20, 2015, at 6:44 PM
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