A jury likely will decide Friday whether a Jacksonville Beach man will spend the rest of his life in prison for running over another man with his car after a bar fight.
Adam Lloyd Shepard, 33, has been on trial for the last two weeks for the first-degree murder of 35-year-old Spencer Schott. The defense in the case rested Thursday afternoon, and the case will go to the jury Friday following closing arguments.
Schott was killed in January 2011 when he was run over across the street from the apartment complex where he lived on the 1300 block of Shetter Avenue in Jacksonville Beach.
The two men had met days before at a dog park and realized they were both fans of the University of Kansas.
They played golf together on Saturday and then went to Sneakers Sports Grille to watch the Kansas basketball team play Texas.
Texas won, and Shepard became surly and agitated to the point where Schott got frustrated with him and went to another table. The two men then got into a fight, and when Sneakers employees saw Shepard with his hands around Schott’s throat, they threw him out of the bar.
Shepard called and texted Schott at least 30 times after he was thrown out of the bar.
Schott then got a call that his dog was out of his apartment, and he left the bar. He appears to have seen Shepard parked across the street from his apartment complex and got out of his car to confront him, believing that he was responsible for letting the dog out, and Shepard ran him over.
During opening statements Assistant State Attorney Jessica Klingensmith said Shepard lured Schott to the parking lot where he ran him over.
“Those headlights drove straight toward him,” Klingensmith said. “The car then drove right over him.”
The last image Schott had in his life was the under carriage of Shepard’s vehicle, she said.
But defense attorney Matthew Kachergus said Schott’s death was a tragic accident.
Schott was running toward him and Shepard drove away trying to avoid Schott, and didn’t realize he’d hit him, Kachergus said.
On Thursday the defense called Chet Tomlinson, a crash-reconstruction expert, who testified that Schott was hit by the right rear side of the vehicle, and the front of the vehicle didn’t hit him. He also testified the vehicle hit a curb, slowing it down, before hitting Schott.
Assistant State Attorney Lee Smith challenged that on cross examination, arguing that Schott was dragged by the vehicle and then crushed. He also took issue with Tomlinson’s testimony that the vehicle was going about 15 m.p.h. at the time Schott was hit, and pointed out that Tomlinson’s own report suggested the vehicle might have been going 25 m.p.h.
Shepard fled the area and was arrested later in Chicago. Shepard told Circuit Judge Kevin Blazs Thursday he would not be taking the stand in his own defense.
Larry Hannan: (904) 359-4470