Transcripts released on Shawn Lester
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Recently released transcripts shed a new and disturbing light on the character of the man convicted in the 2003 sniper-style killings.
The recordings, released by Charleston detectives, detail telephone messages and conversations between Shawn Lester, 37, and an informant just weeks before Lester was arrested and charged with the murder of Gary Carrier Jr., Jeanie Patton and Okey Meadows Jr.
Lester repeatedly told the informant he planned to rob and kill a West Side man who had a large cache of prescription pills. He told the informant he'd need handcuffs and a stun gun to carry out the robbery.
"He'll probably know your face though," the informant told Lester.
"I ain't worried about that. I'll probably end up havin' to kill him," Lester responded.
Lester later detailed his plans further.
"Well what I'm gonna do is like go up there with like a thousand dollars, you know what I mean?" Lester said.
"Show it to him?" the informant asked.
"Show it to him and be like. . ."
"Make sure he's got somethin', good idea 'cause if not. . ." the informant interrupted.
"Yeah, 'cause I ain't gonna go up there and do this s--- for no f-----' (inaudible) but I might, I mean literally I might have to kill this mother f----- you know what I mean?
"He - if he's got 2,000 of them mother f-----' pills up there I'm killing him," Lester said.
The recordings were played during Lester's federal sentencing.
Authorities haven't publicly identified the man Lester planned to rob. But Charleston Lt. Steve Cooper, the lead investigator in the sniper case, said the man is alive today because police intervened.
"Due to my familiarity with Mr. Lester, when I heard this recording, I immediately recognized there was a real potential for this to take place," Cooper said.
Officers searched the man's West Side home and found $44,000 worth of prescription pills, including Opana and Roxicodone, Cooper said. Although police haven't identified him because of his cooperation in other cases, he was arrested, prosecuted and convicted.
Cooper, chief of detectives, said the audio showed how dangerous Lester was to the public.
"The audio is disturbing due to the repeated threats that Lester wanted to force this guy to talk and then kill him," Cooper said. "He even plotted that police would think someone else had done it and that we wouldn't detect the crime for several days."
The informant told Lester he'd seen the pills in the man's home and described the bag of pills to Lester.
". . . if he's got a bag like that I'd kill him for it. I'd kill him for that," Lester said.
"See that's why I just want to go over there and you know I-I pull some money out in front of him, let him bring his s--- out and then I'm just gonna get him with the stun gun," Lester said.
"Well here's the thing . . . I mean he's gonna recognize your face," the informant told him.
"I know that's why I'm thinkin' about just . . . puttin' him out," Lester said.
"I'm afraid they'll find it out," the informant said.
"All you got to do . . ." Lester said.
"You sure?" the informant interrupted.
". . . is be clean man, just be clean," Lester told him.
Lester was arrested on March 30, 2011, and charged with Patton's murder after Sam Ranson, a longtime friend of Lester, came forward with information. Ranson told authorities Lester told him he killed Patton over the theft of an engine stuffed with methamphetamine. The drugs were owned by a member of the Mexican Mafia named Tito Lopez.
Cooper said Lester's lifestyle revolved around drugs and guns.
Photos presented during trial showed Lester handling rifles in the Sissonville area home of Sandra and Rodney Shaffer Sr.
The images were captured with surveillance cameras in the Shaffer home. Authorities said Sandra Shaffer installed the cameras for security and to spy on her husband with his girlfriend. Those tapes were confiscated in the April search of Shaffer's property.
Sandra Shaffer testified in federal court last week that Lester had access to weapons at her home and that she saw Lester regularly handle some of the 17 guns kept in safes around the home. The weapons belonged to her husband, she said.
She said drugs and drug abusers flowed in and out of their home on a daily basis. Lester lived with the Shaffers for a while and later lived in trailers they owned.
Lester, who pleaded guilty to Patton's murder, never admitted to pulling the trigger. Authorities said Rodney Shaffer Jr., son of Rodney Sr. and Sandra Shaffer, would have testified he was lying in the backseat of a green Ford Bronco on Aug. 14, 2003, the night Patton and Meadows were killed, when he heard a shot fired. His father was sitting up front with Lester.
Rodney Shaffer Sr. died in 2008.
Cooper said the senior Shaffer was the "godfather of that crew" and said he was just as culpable in the shootings as Lester.
"If Rodney Shaffer Sr. were alive today, he would also be in prison for his participation in the sniper murders," Cooper said.
Lester pleaded guilty in August to one count of second-degree murder in Patton's death. His plea was entered the morning a jury was to be selected for his trial. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison for that offense.
Last week, U.S. District Judge John Copenhaver added another six years to that sentence for being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at email@example.com or 304-348-4850.