Shahan murder case to go before grand jury - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Shahan murder case to go before grand jury

Richard Shahan and his attorneys get into a car on their way to the Jefferson County courthouse on Wednesday, Feb. 5. Source: Melynda Sides/WBRC Richard Shahan and his attorneys get into a car on their way to the Jefferson County courthouse on Wednesday, Feb. 5. Source: Melynda Sides/WBRC
Shahan's attorney John Lentine said no matter what would have happened in the preliminary hearing, he believed the state would turn the case over to a grand jury. Source: Melynda Sides/WBRC Shahan's attorney John Lentine said no matter what would have happened in the preliminary hearing, he believed the state would turn the case over to a grand jury. Source: Melynda Sides/WBRC
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

Attorneys for Richard Shahan, the former Homewood pastor accused of stabbing his wife to death last July, waived his right to a preliminary hearing on Wednesday, Feb 5. His case will now go before a grand jury.

Shahan is charged with murder in the death of his wife Karen Shahan. His attorney John Lentine said Wednesday that it was their understanding that no matter what happened in the preliminary hearing, the state would place the case before a grand jury.

"Regardless of whether probable cause was found or if it was not found, the case would be presented to a grand jury. So we felt under the circumstances that there was no point for a preliminary hearing," Lentine said.

"We got some discovery from the state Monday, and our decision was not to have a preliminary hearing. The case was going to go to the grand jury no matter what we do," Lentine added.

Shahan, 53, was charged on Jan. 1 with the July 2013 murder of his wife Karen Shahan. He was taken into custody by Homeland Security agents at the Nashville International Airport as he was attempting to board a plane to Germany.

Shahan's attorneys maintain that he was leaving the country for a three-year-long mission trip, and say he is not a flight risk. His defense claims that he would have turned himself in if he had known about the murder warrant, which was signed in Jefferson County on Dec. 31, 2013.

State prosecutors said in court earlier in January that Shahan planned to flee the country to start a new life with his boyfriend. They cite Shahan's alleged gay relationship as his motive for killing his wife at their home in the quiet neighborhood next door to the church where he worked as the children and families pastor.

Prosecutors say they've obtained 3,000 of Shahan's emails, including messages that indicate that Shahan planned to go to Russia from Germany and eventually become a citizen in the United Kingdom. Assistant DA Laura Poston said the former Baptist pastor planned to marry his boyfriend after fleeing the U.S.

When Shahan was arrested at the Nashville airport, he was carrying $27,000 in various currencies, including Euros, pounds and Kazakh money. Judge Shelly Watkins ruled that the U.S. dollars confiscated during Shahan's arrest be returned to him, along with any other belongings not covered in the search warrant.

Judge Watkins also ruled last month that Shahan cannot have his passport back while he is awaiting trial for his wife's murder.

Karen Shahan was found murdered in the couple's home on Hugh Circle in Homewood on July 23, 2013. Homewood police believe Shahan stabbed or cut his wife to death "on or about" July 22, 2013. State prosecutors say Shahan used a knife to violently stab his wife to death.

Shahan was released on a $100,000 bond on Jan. 17. He is being electronically monitored and is under house arrest at his mother's home in Homewood.

Shahan's preliminary hearing was scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in Judge Shelly Watkins' courtroom. There is no word yet on when the case will go before a grand jury.

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