A Greenlee County man was properly convicted for shooting at a sheriff’s deputy in 2018, but his sentence needs to be reduced by several years, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.
Shawn Patrick Kelly was convicted by a jury in August 2019 of aggravated assault of a peace officer. He was sentenced by Judge Monica Stauffer of the Greenlee County Superior Court to a state prison term of 15 years based on what the judge claimed were aggravating factors.
Kelly, 54, appealed his conviction on the grounds of insufficient evidence to show he intended to assault the deputy, who was struck by debris after Kelly fired several rifle rounds through the wall toward the street. The court of appeals’ Oct. 12 decision upholds the jury’s verdict but in a 3-0 vote the judges unanimously agreed Stauffer should have only imposed a 10.5-year sentence.
As a result, the court of appeals has amended Kelly’s sentence in accordance with state sentencing guidelines. Appellate court orders do not take effect for 30 days to give the parties time to petition for review to the Arizona Court of Appeals but the Arizona Attorney General’s Office conceded during the appeal that Kelly’s sentence should have been 10.5 years.
Court records show Kelly was reportedly suicidal and possibly armed with a weapon on Nov. 18, 2018 when deputies were dispatched to an old commercial building in Duncan where Kelly had taken up residence. Bodycam shows Sgt. John Mennen park his patrol car in front of the building, then get out of the vehicle and try to make contact with Kelly.
Suddenly several gunshots are heard from the building, and Mennen felt something strike his face. Believing he was being shot at, the sergeant returned fire toward the building’s doorway as he took cover behind his vehicle.
Kelly then became visible in the doorway holding a rifle in a ready-to-shoot position. The sergeant discharged his weapon until Kelly fell to the ground. Public records show Kelly was struck by five of the 15 rounds fired by Mennen.
Investigators found five spent rifle casings inside the building, along with five holes in the building’s thick stucco wall facing where the sergeant parked. None of the rounds fired by Kelly actually struck the patrol car nor the sergeant but forensic analysis showed sharp debris from the stucco is what hit the sergeant.
Interestingly, the jury which convicted Kelly for assaulting Mennen voted to acquit him of kidnapping and assault charges for an earlier incident which led deputies to the building in the first place.
Court records show Kelly reportedly invited then-Greenlee County Attorney Derek Rapier into a residential area he set up inside the old building. The two were discussing whether the city could evict Kelly, who Rapier reported seemed “depressed.”
After a few minutes, Kelly allegedly pointed a handgun at Rapier’s head. Rapier told investigators he convinced Kelly to hand over the gun -which was loaded- and escaped the building. He then called the sheriff’s office, prompting Mennen’s response.
Jurors found Kelly not guilty of both charges involving Rapier.