Middletown murder trial to focus on battered person’s syndrome

Two forensic physiologists will be permitted to interview a Middletown woman accused of killing her ex-husband in preparation for next month’s trial in which battered person’s syndrome will be the defense.

Dawn Shearer, 48, of Ellis Way, is charged with murder and felonious assault for allegedly shooting Anthony “Tony” Shearer on Feb. 6. Her trial is scheduled to begin June 19 in Butler County Common Pleas Court.

Defense attorney Jason Phillabaum has said Shearer acted in self-defense after being abused by Tony Shearer. He said experts will be called to testify about the abuse.

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One of those defense experts, a forensic physiologist, will interview Shearer in the Butler County Jail about her mental state pertaining to abuse syndrome, which prompted the prosecution to ask that their own expert be permitted to do the same.

Phillabaum objected to the prosecution’s expert, noting the report could be provided to the prosecution for their own expert to review.

But based on case law, Judge Jennifer McElfresh granted the request with guidelines.

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The interview will be audio recorded, per Phillabaum’s request, and he, as well as a prosecutor can also be present, but not participate.

Phillabaum specifically requested the interview be recorded so that there is a complete record. He pointed to the testimony of a Middletown police officer at Shearer’s preliminary hearing who did not testify about everything that was said during her interview with the defendant.

“While I have not doubt the officer was trying to be truthful,” Phillabaum said, “there was a whole lot more said in the interview.”

He added that Shearer told the police she had been abused.

“She talked about how Tony was abusing her for the last four years and maybe the decision to defend herself was not wise,” Phillabaum said.

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Shearer was arrested by Middletown Police minutes after calling 911 on Feb. 6 and saying that she had shot her ex-husband.

Phillabaum said Shearer was chased outside the home on the night of the fatal shooting and she couldn’t “escape” because her ex-husband’s van was blocking her Nissan Altima in the driveway.

Tanya Shearer, Tony’s sister-in-law, previously said she never heard or saw any type of abuse.

“I am so shocked at this,” she said. “Tony was a great guy, very loving and kid-friendly. My children loved their uncle Tony.”

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