Saying that he agreed with the jury that decided Shaun Casey Fairman, 33, had violence on his mind, not suicide, when he fatally shot his father-in-law last June, Indiana County President Judge William Martin today sentenced Fairman to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Fairman was found guilty April 25 of second-degree murder, aggravated assault/causing serious bodily injury, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and burglary.
He was also ordered to pay the costs of prosecution of $20,016 and was sentenced to three concurrent jail terms ranging from 16 months to 20 years for the lesser charges.
Fairman killed Richard “Dick” Shotts, of the Rural Valley area, with a single gunshot around 12:24 a.m. June 3 after he arrived at the home of his estranged wife, Jessica Fairman, armed with two guns.
Shotts, 55, was staying at the home over concerns that Fairman would threaten Jessica and their four children, two of whom were home at the time. When Fairman arrived, Shotts refused to let him in; Fairman fired a gun into the kitchen through a window, killing him, then went in search of his wife.
When he opened the bedroom door where she had taken refuge, she shot him twice in his right shoulder and kept him at gunpoint until police arrived.
The Fairmans had separated less than a month earlier, and Jessica obtained a protection-from-abuse order against him. Shaun Fairman had moved to an apartment near Creekside and received notice that she had filed for divorce on June 2.
Defense attorneys Robert Dougherty and Donald McKee had argued that he was mentally impaired and intoxicated and that he had wanted to commit suicide in his wife’s presence when he arrived at the house, not kill anyone.
But he arrived at the home with a fully loaded .45-caliber revolver and a loaded .30-06 rifle, and the jury determined in April that he was guilty of second-degree murder.
“(Shotts) lost his life in an effort to save his family,” Martin said when he sentenced Fairman, referencing the two guns as evidence that Fairman intended to harm his wife. “(This was) a senseless loss of life.”
Fairman mostly looked down and offered a brief, inaudible statement before he was sentenced.
But Shotts’ wife and son both tearfully told the court what losing him has meant for their family.
“No one gets the right to play God,” said Richard Shotts. “What he did was unforgivable and unforgettable. … He should never set foot outside of prison ever again.”
The younger Shotts said he never liked Fairman and that the signs of violence were there leading up to the murder. He said his father had not seemed like himself, and that looking back, he realized he was “worried sick” about his daughter’s safety.
“My father’s a hero for what he did. He protected his family from evil.”
And he mourned the lost time with his father, the memories they would never make, and that his own children would forget their grandfather.
“Dad was always a busy man, but he always made time for my sister and I,” he said. “My dad adored his grandchildren.”
Candice Shotts told the court that she had never been alone, and that she and her husband had plans for the years to come that would never be fulfilled.
“I lost financially, (I lost) my husband, (who) I loved with all my heart,” she said. “(I lost) the love of my life, but most of all (I lost) my very, very best friend.”