Jury Selection Begins In Steel Drum Slayings Trial
Prosecutors: Jerry Pelfree Killed Men, Stuffed Bodies Drums
2:59 AM, Feb 23, 2009
Jury selection began Monday in the murder trial of a man accused of fatally shooting two men whose decomposed bodies were found sealed in drums on his southern Indiana property.Jerry Pelfree, 52, faces two counts of murder in the slayings of Everett Lynn Shaw, 35, of Gosport and Douglas Allen Brown, 23, of Bloomington. Their dismembered, decaying bodies were found in September 2007 in barrels near Pelfree's mobile home a few miles south of Bloomington.Pelfree pleaded not guilty, and defense lawyer Ron Chapman will try to convince jurors that someone else killed Shaw and Brown.Prosecution witnesses are expected to include a jail inmate who told investigators in September 2007 that he had helped Pelfree stuff the men's bodies into the barrels.Monroe Circuit Judge Marc Kellams has set aside two weeks for the trial.According to police accounts, Pelfree, Shaw, Brown and Troy Harden -- the man who told investigators about the killings -- obtained a stolen all-terrain vehicle in March 2007.Harden said he and the others spent several days at Pelfree's rural property driving the ATV around and repairing a car. Then, one day Pelfree emerged from his trailer carrying a .22-calliber rifle, called to Shaw and shot him several times in the head without warning, police said.Harden said that when he went inside the trailer, he found Brown sitting upright on the couch, dead from a gunshot to the head.According to court documents, Harden said he and Pelfree then moved the bodies to the barrels, but that when they would not fit inside, "Pelfree used a maul to break the bodies down so they fit."
Douglas Brown and Everett Shaw
Later, another man arrived and helped Pelfree load the barrels into the cargo hold of a box truck parked on the property. When police officers later secured a search warrant, they reported finding the barrels adjacent to the red truck, about 80 yards away for the mobile home.Shaw, a father of seven, had last been seen leaving his home in March 2007, while Brown, who had dated Pelfree's daughter, was reported missing in the summer of 2007.Pelfree has been in jail since the discovery of the bodies.Every prisoner booked into jail is asked a series of questions to help assess his or her mental status. When a jailer asked Pelfree what happens when he gets mad, his response was unexpected."I kill people," he said, according to authorities.