Trial for suspect in trooper shooting delayed again

Tuesday, September 23, 2008 | 3:58 p.m. CDT; updated 4:07 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, September 23, 2008

VAN BUREN — A trial for a man accused of shooting a Missouri State Highway Patrol sergeant has been pushed back again, meaning it will come before a jury more than four years after the crime.

Lance Shockley of West Plains is charged with murder and armed criminal action for the shooting death of Sgt. Dewayne Graham in 2005. He was also charged with leaving the scene of a fatal hit-and-run Graham had been investigating. He has pleaded not guilty.

Carter County Circuit Judge David Evans on Monday set a new trial date of March 23 after a new attorney was appointed for Shockley, 31. Jury selection is scheduled for March 18.

Shockley's previous attorneys moved to withdraw from the case July 9. A temporary attorney was assigned before the case was assigned to lawyer Bradford Kessler.

Edna Cross, the victim's aunt, said multiple delays in the trial have been a roller coaster for Graham's family.

Shockley, in the meantime, has been transferred among facilities, serving time in Cape Girardeau, Ste. Genevieve, Mississippi and Howell counties.

Investigators believe Shockley shot Graham on March 20, 2005, because of the trooper's investigation into the possibility that Shockley played a role in a fatal hit-and-run crash.

Shockley was charged March 29, 2005 with the shooting.

On Nov. 26, 2004, Shockley's pickup truck veered off a Carter County road in a one-vehicle accident. The truck's passenger, Jeffrey Bayless, died of injuries sustained in the crash. Police were investigating whether Shockley was behind the wheel at the time.

Bayless was engaged to Cynthia Chilton, the sister of Shockley's wife. Graham had been investigating the crash and was focusing on Shockley as a suspect, police said at the time of Shockley's arrest.

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