Archive for Friday, July 19, 2002

Meeker convicted in shooting

July 19, 2002


There was no impasse Friday for jurors in the retrial of a former Baldwin man whom they found guilty of shooting a neighbor's boyfriend.

Stephen Meeker could be sentenced to as many as 41 months in prison for aggravated battery in the Oct. 14, 2001, incident outside his former home in the 1200 block of Bison Court.

"It's a great relief," said Steven Swafford, 33, Lawrence, who was shot three times from a 9 mm pistol fired by Meeker.

Meeker also was found guilty of attempted aggravated battery for shooting at Swafford's friend, Chris O'Neil, Lawrence, and threatening Swafford's girlfriend, Kerry Chalmers, with the gun.

Meeker, 34 at the time of the incident, and his attorney, Jim Rumsey, couldn't be reached for comment late Friday. Rumsey had argued that Meeker acted in self-defense and was trying to protect his wife, who he said was being threatened by Chalmers.

This was the second time Meeker had been tried on the charges. In April, a jury was unable to reach a verdict in the case, despite deliberating nearly eight hours. The jury seated for the retrial deliberated two hours before convicting Meeker.

The shooting resulted from a long-simmering neighborhood dispute that began between the children of the Meekers and Chalmers, both sides said. Chalmers had gone next door to the Meekers' home.

Chalmers confronted Meeker's wife, Erin Meeker, at the front door about a problem with the children. But Chalmers insisted she did not threaten Erin Meeker nor enter the house.

Stephen Meeker, just out of the shower, came out of the house naked, armed with the gun and pointed it at Chalmers, Assistant Dist. Atty. Dan Dunbar said. That was when Swafford and O'Neil ran toward Meeker and Meeker began shooting without warning, prosecution witnesses said. Swafford was shot in the hand, arm and hip.

Swafford said he still had no feeling in three fingers on his wounded, right hand. Despite surgeries, he probably never will regain full use of the hand, he said.

"I hope this sends a message to the young people of Baldwin that you can't do this sort of thing," he said of the shooting incident.

Meeker, who has since moved his family to Johnson County, is free on $15,000 bond awaiting an Aug. 16 sentencing date.

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