Randy Shepard spoke softly and politely nodded his head when he answered questions from the judge.
The former Palmyra High School teacher and coach is charged with second-degree statutory rape, second-degree statutory sodomy and sexual contact with a student by teacher. Monday marked his second in-person courthouse appearance when he stood before Judge Rachel Bringer for arraignment in Marion County circuit court.
Shepard’s attorney, Eric Bond, said there was an “outstanding discovery issue,” and a future court hearing was set for 9:30 a.m. May 21. According to Marion County Prosecutor Tom Redington, evidence sent to a laboratory is awaiting examination.
Bond’s motion for a change of venue for Shepard’s trial was granted; when a date is set, it will take place at the Monroe County Courthouse. Bond made a plea to reduce Shepard’s bail.
“My client’s family resides here in the Hannibal area,” Bond said to Bringer in hopes of cutting Shepard’s $100,000 cash-only bond in half. “My client needs to be home, he needs to be with his children.”
The Palmyra-based attorney added his client has never been charged before and there is “no issue of failure to appear” in court.
“He was made aware of the investigation in January of this year. He very easily could have fled,” Bond said.
He continued to tell the court Shepard is “not a flight risk” and this is “not a forcible sodomy case.” Bond went on to note the case against Shepard only has one alleged victim while other cases in Marion County have an accused facing similar charges involving either two victims or a younger victim. He said the accused in those cases have bonds set at $50,000 with no stipulations like cash-only.
Redington strongly objected.
“This is a very serious case we have,” Redington said. “It just took the highway patrol a while.”
The investigation in Shepard’s alleged sexual relationship with a female student began in January. He was arrested in March.
In his response to Bond’s reduction request, Redington said Shepard tampered with evidence while the investigation was taking place.
“That is an absolute shock to me,” Bond said.
Redington added the victim’s parents were in the courtroom and they too do not want a bond reduction.
When all was said and done, Bringer said bond reduction will be taken under advisement. It is not known when she will make a ruling. Until the next court appearance, Shepard will remain incarcerated at the Marion County Jail in Palmyra.