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Gregg Jones, Union Missourian Editor
Posted: Monday, October 3, 2011
The Washington man accused in the brutal murder of a Union woman was found guilty Thursday of first-degree murder and handed a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Circuit Court Judge Gael Wood issued the verdict to Timothy D. Shults, 47, during a hearing at the Franklin County Judicial Center.
Judge Wood said Shults murdered Union resident Deborah Marsch, 53, at Autumn Hill Park July 3, 2009. The murder was an apparent random act of violence, authorities said.
Franklin County prosecutors proved that Shults showed “cool deliberation” – required in a first-degree murder conviction – prior to the murder of Marsch.
Amber Marsch spoke to the court before the sentence was read.
“Deborah Marsch was my mother, my everything, best friend, confidant and rock. . .” she said. “She could lighten up your day just by having a two minute conversation with her.”
Shults confessed to police on Sunday, July 5, 2009, that he killed the woman, then took detectives to the location where he dumped her body off Judith Spring Road.
During police interviews, the suspect said he did not know Marsch but that he was angry and she was “in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Amber Marsch described Shults’ actions as “evil.”
“The only justice would be you having to endure the same evil the rest of your life,” she said to Shults prior to sentencing.
Deborah Marsch had been missing for two days when authorities questioned Shults about an unrelated incident. Police knew Shults would sometimes go to Autumn Hill Park and asked about the woman’s disappearance.
A bench trial in front of Judge Wood was held June 29 through July 1.
Shults had waived a jury trial and was tried in a bench trial, and in exchange the Franklin County Prosecutor’s office agreed to not seek the death penalty for Shults.
During the trial, Robert Wolfrum, the public defender who represented Shults, said Shults did not show deliberation in the murder of Marsch.
He also blamed Shults’ actions on depression and a syndrome that causes anxiety caused by medication.
Franklin County prosecutors said Shults reacted calmly enough to drag Marsch’s body from the murder scene to the parking lot of Autumn Hill Park, put her body in the bed of his truck and drive it to the site where the body was dumped.
Shults then removed Marsch’s clothing and dumped it in a different area so it would be harder to identify Marsch, prosecutors said.