KENTON — The trial of Gerrick Sheldon plodded forward Wednesday in Hardin County Common Pleas Court, its deliberate pace virtually assuring that the case will spill over into next week before being turned over to jurors.
Judge Scott Barrett had intended to keep jurors later than usual on Wednesday but promptly ended the day’s proceedings at 4:30 p.m. when he was alerted to a family emergency.
Testimony on the third day of the trial in Hardin County Common Pleas Court started with Danielle Sheldon, the defendant’s ex-wife whose home was the target of an alleged arson plot that prosecutors say was orchestrated by Gerrick “Tony” Shelton.
Sheldon is charged with complicity to attempted aggravated murder and other charges related to his attempt to get his 16-year-old son, Garrett, to burn down the house of his estranged wife at 13912 county Road 60, Dunkirk.
Danielle Sheldon recounted for jurors the early morning hours of Aug. 13, 2017, which began with a message from her stepson, Hunter, that her estranged husband intended to drop off Garrett to set her house on fire. Danielle was assured that Garrett had no intention of carrying out the plan, but was asked to notify police, she testified.
Questioned by Hardin County Prosecuting Attorney Bradford Bailey, the 41-year-old woman said she had filed a petition some four months earlier to obtain a civil protection order against her estranged husband, from which she is now divorced. Seven days after the protection order was granted, she said, Tony Sheldon was arrested for violating it and pleaded guilty to related charges.
Defense attorneys attempted to establish that there was a history of threats and violence on the part of Tony Sheldon’s sons toward Danielle Sheldon. She admitted under cross-examination that Trent, Hunter and Garrett Sheldon had undergone mental health counseling and that she had received death threats from at least two of the boys in the past. She also admitted that her initial petition to the court for a civil protection order asked that Tony, Trent and Garrett Sheldon all be ordered to stay away from her.
Also testifying Wednesday were Hardin County Sheriff’s Deputies Justin Dick and Mark Ellis. Dick was the first to arrive at the home of Danielle Sheldon on the night in question, while Ellis is the officer who apprehended Tony Sheldon a few hours later on a roadway near his estranged wife’s residence.
At approximately 3:30 a.m., as he was leaving Danielle’s home after taking a statement from Garrett Sheldon, Dick testified that he saw at Chrysler PT Cruiser drive past the home — the same type of vehicle Tony Sheldon was said to be driving that evening.
Officer Ellis apprehended and stopped the vehicle shortly thereafter and was joined at the scene by Dick. Ellis testified that he told Tony Sheldon of the allegations Garrett had made against him. Sheldon was captured on a body camera video saying, “That’s an out and out lie. … “I’m clean. I’m just out here looking for him (Garrett).”
As he continued his version of the evening’s events later at the sheriff’s office, Ellis admitted in court that he told Sheldon, “Tony, you’re full of (expletive). You’re not telling us the truth.” Sheldon was arrested later that day at the home of his parents, where he and his sons had been living.
Testimony was to resume Thursday morning in the trial’s fourth day. Several witnesses remain to be called to testify.
Reach J Swygart at 567-242-0464.
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