The Louisiana Supreme Court has rejected the appeal of a former California police officer convicted of the killing of a 19-year-old Winnfield man in Natchitoches.

The conviction and sentence was previously upheld by the Third Circuit Court of Appeal in Lake Charles, Louisiana.  According to Natchitoches Parish District Attorney Van Kyzar, the manslaughter verdict against Shawn Shelton, 44, for the killing of Justin James at the Frog Pond apartments on October 30, 2005, was upheld by the State’s highest court in a slip opinion released this month.

Shelton was convicted of manslaughter by a Natchitoches Parish jury following a weeklong trial in 2010.  The case followed a lengthy investigation into the circumstances surrounding James’ death.  According to evidence adduced at trial, authorities and medical personnel were called to the apartment complex on the morning of October 31, 2005, where they found James lying in the floor of Shelton’s room, nude from the waist down.  He was pronounced dead at the Natchitoches Regional Medical Center.  The cause of death was an overdose of a cocktail of morphine, zanax and cocaine.

While the case was under investigation in Natchitoches, Shelton left the state and was arrested and charged with sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy in 2006 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Shelton was convicted of that offense and sentenced to serve a term of 35 years to life in the Nevada State Penitentiary.

In rejecting the appeal, the Supreme Court reviewed the opinion of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals that extensively recounted the trial testimony and concluded that the evidence supported the jury verdict of manslaughter.  That court also held that the evidence of Shelton’s sexual assault conviction in Nevada and the introduction of photographs in Shelton’s possession of males in drugged states nude from the waist down were properly admitted as evidence and were “relevant and highly probative as to Shelton’s motive, intent and manner of carrying out his predatory sexual activities.

 

         

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