Nearly one year ago Bay County Chief Circuit Judge Kenneth W. Schmidt set aside 48-year-old Rebecca J. Shimel’s guilty plea on grounds that Shimel did not appear to comprehend her actions when she pleaded guilty to the 2009 fatal shooting of her husband. Shimel pleaded guilty in February of 2011 to felony firearm charges and second-degree murder. Initially Judge Schmidt accepted the defendant’s guilty plea; he then overturned his own decision in August of 2012, setting aside the guilty plea.
According to a news article at Mlive.com, Schmidt claimed that E. Brady Denton, Shimel’s attorney, did not clearly explain to Shimel the prison sentence she would likely face if she pleaded guilty to the charges against her. He also said a possible self-defense aspect of Shimel’s case was not thoroughly investigated.
Schmidt’s finding was appealed by the Bay County Prosecutor’s Office. The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that Shimel’s guilty plea will stand, although she may get a new sentence.
Shimel was accused of killing Rodney L. Shimel in December of 2009, allegedly shooting him nine times in an upstairs bedroom. The couple had four children, who were said to be home at the time of the murder. It was indicated by some that Shimel acted in self-defense, that she had been the victim of domestic violence for years. John S. May Jr., a former Bay City Police Detective, testified that Rodney Shimel was arrested in 2007 for domestic violence, although the couple’s adult daughters claimed they had never witnessed a physical altercation between their mother and father.
The appeals court ruled that the trial court abused its discretion by allowing Shimel to withdraw her guilty plea based on the erroneous determination by the judge that she was denied the effective assistance of counsel. The Court of Appeals went on to say that the trial court’s order granting Shimel’s motion to withdraw the plea is reversed. The case was remanded back to the court so that Shimel’s motions to correct her sentence may be addressed.
Michigan criminal appeals attorneys know how critical it is that a defendant have skilled, capable legal counsel when appealing a conviction or sentencing. Individuals considering an appeal must have an attorney who will thoroughly review every detail of the case to determine how to best approach it so that the desired outcome is reached.
Whether you feel you have been wrongly convicted or that there were errors made in the criminal justice process that affected sentencing, consult with an experienced Michigan criminal appeals lawyer.