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An Indiana man convicted of murder for the 2006 shooting death of a Crestwood father wept as he talked about the memories the pair made together serving the U.S. Army during in the Gulf War.
Edward Stoess, 40, will serve 50 years for murder and 20 years for burglary for the May 9, 2006, shooting death of 35-year-old James Shuttler III.
Judge Karen Conrad sentenced Stoess Nov. 12 to a 50-year concurrent sentence for his crimes in Oldham County.
During the hearing, Shuttler’s father, James, described his son as “a lovable knucklehead” and said his son often called on Tuesday nights to tell his father how much he loved him.
He recalled the phone call he received the Tuesday his son died and his disbelief that a police chaplain was on the other end of the line instead of his son.
Shuttler said for the past three years he’s repeatedly asked himself why his son had to die.
“In my opinion it was because another human being couldn’t deal with life the way it was,” Shuttler said. “Another human being knew my son as a loving, caring man and had established himself as the soulmate of someone else, and had a heart big enough to love a lot of children.”
Shuttler said he still wakes up in the middle of the night and sees Stoess shooting his son, and said he hopes Stoess has to think about it every day for the rest of his life.
“I’ll see if that prison’s gonna make you a real man, or turn you into a greater coward,” he said.
Stoess pleaded guilty to the crimes in October just a few days before his trial was scheduled to begin.
His estranged wife, Deena, contacted Oldham County Police the afternoon Shuttler died and said she believed Edward Stoess planned to kill Shuttler, her boyfriend.
According to court documents, both Shuttler and Deena Stoess had recently filed for divorce.
Police found Shuttler’s body inside his Ballardsville home. Within hours of Deena Stoess’ calls to police in Oldham County and Floyd County, Ind., Edward Stoess also shot his wife four times at their home in Indiana.
After the shooting in Ballardsville, Stoess drove to Indiana, where he shot Deena and police found him hiding under the couple’s back porch.
In April 2007, Stoess accepted a plea agreement for the attempted murder of Deena Stoess. A month later, Stoess received a 30-year sentence for the crime.
The shooting left Deena Stoess paralyzed from the waist down, and she now uses a wheelchair.
During the sentencing hearing, Edward Stoess spoke about birthday celebrations, card games and the times his family and Shuttler’s family spent together during their friendship.
He told Shuttler’s family and friends that his actions on May 9, 2006, are not those of a man in his right mind. He said Shuttler’s relationship with Stoess’ then-wife, Deena, left his life in disarray.
“I loved JD like a brother and every day I agonize that I’m responsible for his death,” Stoess said.
Stoess and Shuttler each fathered four children. Shuttler’s ex-wife, Karina Shuttler-Lokke, spoke on behalf of her children during the hearing, explaining that their father’s death has impacted each child differently.
She read statements from her four children and shared artwork they created to convey they grief they’re suffering.
Shuttler’s 8-year-old daughter said classmates make fun of her for not having a dad, and mentioned the sadness of not having the chance to attend a father-daughter dance.
Shuttler’s 15-year-old daughter wrote a poem describing the emotions she experienced in the days following her father’s death, and described the weather as “cloudy with a chance of destruction.” The teen also said her friends feel the need to censor everything they say.
Lokke said the past three years have been the hardest of her children’s lives.
“When Ed took JD’s life that day, he forever took a piece of ours, too,” she said.
Shuttler’s 18-year-old son wrote in his statement that his life has been greatly impacted.
“Every day I watch my younger siblings miss their father,” he wrote. “... Never again will they find the same love or relationship they had with him.”
After Lokke finished statements from her children, she made eye contact with Stoess and offered forgiveness.
“I want you to know, I forgive you, and God forgives you,” she said.
As Stoess spoke to Shuttler’s family, he described himself as the “worst kind of sinner” and offered an apology from the “deepest depths of my soul.”
The courtroom had a somber atmosphere during the hearing, and Judge Conrad acknowledged that the eight children among the Shutter and Stoess families are all impacted by the crime and subsequent sentence.
“You would have to be made of stone not to feel the pain that these families have gone through,” Judge Conrad said as the hearing ended. “I cannot imagine that it is any easier for children of Mr. Stoess than for the children of Mr. Shuttler.”
Stoess remains in the Oldham County Jail and is scheduled to move to prison in the next 30 days.
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