Ad Spot
Photo by Michael Wetzel Co-defendants in the Larry Sheppard murder case in jail jumpsuits, from left, Angela Stolz, Jaclyn Elaine Skuce, Aaron Carter Howard, Logan M. Delp and Lajuhn Keith Smart Jr. leave the Morgan County Courthouse this past Friday.

Judge to decide on setting bond in Hartselle murder case

By Michael Wetzel

For the Enquirer

Morgan County Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Howell on Friday told lawyers and defendants that it would be “a few days” before she makes a ruling on a motion to set bond for a capital murder defendant in an alleged murder-for-hire scheme in Hartselle in 2020.

Carl Cole, defense attorney for Aaron Carter Howard, 41, of Toney, made a motion that his client be released from Morgan County Jail on bail because the state has a weak case against his client, and it might be four years from the time of his arrest until a trial is held.

Prosecutors describe Howard as a “lookout” who was involved in the July 24, 2020, shooting death of Anthony Larry Sheppard, 41, at Sheppard’s home in Hartselle.

According to Hartselle police, Jaclyn Elaine Skuce, 40, set up a fake Facebook account and used it to hire Logan McKinley Delp to kill Sheppard, the father of her child, for $30,000. Police say Delp was accompanied by Howard, Angela Stolz and Lajuhn Keith Smart Jr. when he went to Sheppard’s Dawson Road home and shot him multiple times.

All of the defendants were indicted for capital murder, which carries a penalty of death or life without the possibility of parole.

At Friday’s hearing on Howard’s motion to set bond, an FBI agent investigating the case testified he received a postcard in April from the jailed Howard which he perceived as a “threat.”

Special Agent Christopher Hendon, lead investigator, read the postcard in court. It said, “How do you live with yourself? Owing your life to a system Chewing you up

and spitting you out. Have you heard that all the echoes from the past come to light as truth? Know the difference!”

It was signed “Pyro 1%er, WOSMC.” In previous hearings since Howard’s arrest in 2020, “Pyro” was established as a nickname Howard used.

Hendon testified that “1%ers” are a group of motorcycle enthusiasts who want others to believe they disobey the law. He said it originated from the 1960s when the American Motorcycle Association said 99% of motorcyclists are law-abiding citizens.

Prosecutors said Howard was a member of the Wheels of Soul motorcycle club. Hendon testified a WOS jacket and vest were found among Howard’s possessions during the investigation.

After the hearing, attended by all five co-defendants, Cole said, “I prefer that any of my clients not write a letter to an FBI agent or to law enforcement.”

In support of his motion to set bond, Cole argued to Howell that it was established in an earlier preliminary hearing that his client “did not pull the trigger and was not at the crime scene” when Sheppard was killed. “There’s no evidence my client was there,” he said. “Skuce apparently didn’t know who he was.”

Cole said his client has lived in north Alabama most of his life and would live with his brother if he is released from jail. He asked the judge to consider home confinement or an ankle monitor for Howard.

“He likely won’t be the first tried and it could be early 2024 or possibly 2025 before he is,” Cole said. “If bond is not granted he will be sitting in there four or five years.”

Assistant District Attorney Garrick Vickery argued Howard shouldn’t be released on bail because the investigation showed he went with the co-defendants two times before the shooting to make sure they had the correct house.

“He was an integral part of (the murder.) He was scoping the location, providing assistance, talking to the shooter beforehand about alibi witnesses,” Vickery said after the hearing.

Howell said she would review the 87-page transcript of the preliminary hearing before making a ruling on Cole’s request.

Attorneys for Delp, Skuce and Stolz asked the judge to consider about a dozen motions concerning pretrial discovery, jury selection and other matters.

Skuce and Smart have also filed motions to set bond. Howell scheduled hearings on those motions for Nov. 18.

News

Christmas in the Park enjoyed in Falkville despite rain

News

Somerville woman arrested after threat made in Priceville

News

Officials: Escaped Morgan inmate apparently caused his own death

News

Majority leader Stadthagen sees strength in election of 26 republican legislators

News

Lacey’s Spring community fighting proposed rock quarry

News

Hartselle students participate in character expo

News

Authorities: Gifts in unlocked cars a tempting target so take preventive measures

At a Glance

Three arrested for theft of vehicle in Hartselle

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Annual Christmas parade to be held Thursday  

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Some concerned over new Hartselle superintendent hire  

At a Glance

Town of Falkville to hold Christmas in the Park Sunday

At a Glance

Hartselle Holiday Market returns Saturday

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Old Hartselle post office to become event center, new home for chamber  

At a Glance

‘Have a Hart’ information session to be held Dec. 2

Morgan County

Future leader

News

Alabama DHR accepting applications for next round of child care bonuses 

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Spirit of Thanksgiving: Volunteers deliver 266 food bags on holiday for Meals on Wheels  

At a Glance

Morgan County Sheriff’s Office to let citizens behind the scenes with academy  

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Winter window wonderland  

At a Glance

Council to interview candidates for Parks and Rec director job  

Hartselle

Live nativity scene returns to First Christian Dec. 7-10

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Local church prepares 400 Thanksgiving meals

News

HIS students help clean up effort at Mt. Tabor Cemetery 

News

Lovely landscape

x