LIMA — Two defendants involved in high-profile cases that include the potential for lengthy prison sentences upon conviction were updated Wednesday on the health status of their court-appointed attorney.
Everett Ward, 42, of Lima, who faces charges of rape and gross sexual imposition, and Vicky Shellabarger, charged with murder, involuntary manslaughter and endangering children in the death of her infant daughter, made brief appearances before Allen County Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey Reed to learn of the unexpected delays in their respective cases.
Those delays are the result of a recent health scare suffered by longtime Public Defender and Defense Attorney Steve Chamberlain.
Reed told Ward that Chamberlain “has some health issues and is currently in the hospital,” causing a hearing on a defense motion to suppress some evidence in the case to be postponed temporarily.
“I visited Mr. Chamberlain in the hospital on Monday,” Reed told Ward, who responded that he was unaware of his lawyer’s health issues. “He (Chamberlain) has some pretty serious health issues but he is optimistic that he can return to work by the end of August,” the judge said.
“If something should happen that Mr. Chamberlain cannot get back to work in that time frame, I may consider appointing a new attorney for you. But he has given me an optimistic prognosis about his ability to get back to work and he’s asked me to keep him on his cases for the time being,” Reed said.
Shellabarger, 37, heard a similar story from Reed, although her case is perhaps a little more pressing. A jury trial for the Convoy woman had already been scheduled for Aug. 13.
Reed said that trial date has now been vacated and that trial will be rescheduled “once Mr. Chamberlain gets up to full speed. If he is out longer that anticipated, we can look at appointing another attorney for you.”
Shellabarger was indicted in August 2018 by an Allen County grand jury on charges of murder, an unclassified felony; involuntary manslaughter, a felony of the first degree; and two counts of endangering children in the death of her daughter in a Delphos apartment. It was determined the child died of blunt force trauma.