Prosecutors have dropped the case against a longtime Southern Baptist minister accused of murdering his wife in 2013.
Richard Shahan, former children and families’ pastor and facilities director at First Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., was arrested New Year’s Day 2014 and charged with fatally stabbing his wife, 52-year-old Karen Shahan, at the church-owned home they rented in July 2013.
Shahan pleaded not guilty and was scheduled to stand trial next month, but on April 10 the Alabama attorney general’s office filed a motion announcing the state doesn’t have enough evidence to prosecute at this time. The case could be revived in the future if new evidence emerges because there is no statute of limitations for murder.
Police questioned Shahan shortly after his wife was found dead after not showing up for work on the morning of July 23, 2013, but did not charge him at that time. Months later Shahan was arrested trying to board an international flight out of Nashville, Tenn.
Police said he was trying to flee prosecution, but Shahan’s lawyers said he was leaving the country to work as a missionary in Eastern Europe.
Court documents alleged the minister lived a secret double life and was involved in multiple relationships with men both at home and abroad. Shahan said he was out of town visiting family when his wife was apparently killed by a burglar.
A 1985 graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, Shahan served in ministry over the years at churches including First Baptist Church in Bryan, Texas; Shades Mountain Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala.; and Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C.
Since 2014 he has been out of jail on a $100,000 bond but confined to house arrest with electronic monitoring.
Shahan’s attorney John Lentine, told local media that after viewing the evidence the attorney general’s office reached “the same conclusion we knew from the beginning” and that Shahan can now begin to “put together” his life after nearly a four-year legal ordeal.