Richard Shahan seeks $30,000 bond

A veteran Southern Baptist children’s minister and facilities director accused of murdering his wife is asking a judge to allow him to post bail.

By Bob Allen

Lawyers for an Alabama Baptist minister arrested while trying to board a flight for Germany on a charge of murdering his wife are asking a judge to set a “reasonable” bond not to exceed $30,000 allowing his release from jail.

richard shahan tennAttorneys for Richard Lee Shahan, former children and families pastor and facilities director at First Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., jailed without bond since his Jan. 1 arrest at the Nashville International Airport, said in a motion filed Jan. 10 their client has no criminal record and has been gainfully employed throughout his life.

He remained in Alabama after being held 48 hours for questioning in August about his wife, Karen, who was found fatally stabbed in the couple’s Homewood, Ala., home after failing to show up for work on July 23.

Authorities issued a warrant for his arrest Dec. 31 and issued a bulletin labelling him a possible flight risk. An airport computer red-flagged his passport after he checked luggage in Nashville on his way to Frankfurt, Germany.

Homewood’s police chief said in a press conference after Shahan’s arrest that detectives believe from Germany he planned to travel to Russia, and if he got there it is unlikely he could have been extradited.

Shahan’s lawyers say it is disingenuous for police to portray Shahan as trying to flee because he had been talking openly for months about plans to do mission work in Eastern Europe. They claim Shahan was unaware that a warrant had been issued, and if they or he had known he would have turned himself in voluntarily before leaving for Nashville.

“Mr. Shanan is not a flight risk,” lawyers said in a motion filed late Friday in Jefferson County Circuit Court. “He is prepared to be in Court to answer this charge whenever scheduled by the Court to do so.”

The motion says continuing to hold Shahan, 53, without bond is “unreasonable, punitive and in violation” of his constitutional rights. It says Shahan will agree to special conditions of release such as not leaving the state of Alabama — police already have his passport — house arrest or electronic monitoring.

Alabama’s criminal code recommends a bond range of $15,000 to $75,000 for murder, but judges have discretion to deny bond in non-capital crimes under certain circumstances.

The motion for bail seeks a bond hearing, which is yet to be scheduled. Other defense motions seek discovery of the evidence police hold against him and return of property seized from him during his arrest in Nashville.           

Previous stories:

Pastor: Church heartbroken by murder, arrest

Arrest affidavit says minister cut, stabbed his wife

Pastor charged with murder is on way to Alabama

Pastor murder suspect waives extradition

Interim pastor supports arrested minister

Attorney: Minister wasn’t trying to flee

Baptist minister arrested in wife’s murder

Minister held in wife’s death leaving U.S.

Minister in custody in Ala. murder

Interim pastor consoles grieving church

Doubt not a sin, says pastor to church hit by murder

Service set for slain minister’s wife

Ala. minister’s wife slain in home