Five people charged with murder in complex Facebook murder-for-hire case

Published 6:27 pm Thursday, April 22, 2021

Five people have been indicted on capital murder charges in a fatal shooting last year in Alabama, a prosecutor said Thursday.

Morgan County District Attorney Scott Anderson said the defendants are all being held without bond in connection with the July 24 shooting death of Anthony Larry Sheppard, 41, of Hartselle.

Logan Delp, 36, and Jaclyn Skuce, 38, both of Madison, face charges along with Aaron Howard, 40, of Toney, and LaJuhn Smart, 25 and Angela Stolz, 34, both of Huntsville. Records show all the defendants are jailed in Morgan County except Delp, who is in the Madison County Jail, The Decatur Daily reported.

It was unknown if any of them have an attorney who can speak on their behalf.

Anderson said the indictment returned by a Morgan County grand jury charges the defendants with three counts of capital murder. He said the first count is based on murder for hire, the second on the murder of a witness scheduled to appear in court and the third is based on the murder occurring as a result of shooting into an occupied dwelling.

Hartselle police were dispatched July 24 to conduct a welfare check on Sheppard, who was scheduled to be in court earlier that day and had failed to appear, according to Anderson. Officers found Sheppard in his home, dead from multiple gunshot wounds.

Skuce is the mother of Sheppard’s child and she and Sheppard were due to appear in court regarding custody and visitation issues on the day of the killing, Anderson said.

Testimony by Hartselle Police investigator Tania Burgess at a preliminary hearing in September detailed statements by several witnesses who said Skuce used a fake Facebook account to find Delp and that she then met with him to arrange the killing. She gave him three payments totaling $30,000, Burgess said.

“This is one of the most complex criminal cases I’ve encountered in my 30-year career, but I look forward to the opportunity to try it and presenting it to a jury,” Anderson said. “We will do our best to get these cases to trial as quickly as possible.”

Burgess said Delp was the shooter, Howard served as the lookout and Skuce was the instigator, while Stolz was in the backseat of a vehicle “providing support.” Authorities have said Smart was the getaway driver.