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Tuesday, Sep. 30, 2014

Judge criticizes mandatory sentencing in Shananhan case

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

A judge sentenced Dixie Shanahan to 50 years in prison on Monday, but lashed out at the mandatory sentencing guidelines that forced him to do so.

District Judge Charles Smith cited the 18 years of abuse Shanahan suffered from her husband, Scott, before she killed him in August 2002 with one shotgun blast to the back of the head.

Smith said the penalty he gave Shanahan did not fit the circumstances of the crime.

"The mandatory minimum sentencing structure imposed on this court is in my opinion wrong," Smith said. "It may be legal, but it is wrong."

A jury late last month found Shanahan, 36, of Defiance, guilty of second-degree murder.

The crime carries a sentence of 50 years in prison with a minimum of 35 years served before Shanahan could be eligible for parole.

Judges and parole boards use to have "reasonable discretion to take into account mitigating factors" before the Legislature changed the law 13 years ago, Smith said.

Addressing Shanahan's abuse, Smith said: "No human should have to put up with that."

"This matter is a tragedy in every sense," Smith said. "You suffered abuse, one person is dead and now you're facing a lifetime in prison."



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