Edwardsburg man sentenced for killing brother

Published 2:14 pm Friday, March 24, 2023

CASSOPOLIS – Emotions ran high in the Cass County Circuit Courtroom Friday as an Edwardsburg man who shot and killed his brother last August was sentenced to three years in prison.

Gary Wallace Shaw, 55, of Redfield Road in Edwardsburg, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to three years to 15 years in prison with credit for 213 days served. He must pay $2,108 in fines and costs.

The incident occurred Aug. 24, 2022 at Shaw’s home on Redfield Road. He got into an argument with his brother, Ivan Shaw, and he ended up shooting his brother three times. Gary Shaw’s wife was outside the residence when she heard the argument and the shots.

Statements made in court Friday indicated that the two had been drinking for a couple of hours and that Ivan Shaw had taken the gun and fired shots inside the home and even held the gun up to his own head before Gary Shaw took the gun and shot his brother.

Ivan Shaw’s son, Ivan Shaw, Jr., spoke before the sentencing.

“He was the world’s best dad, if you needed him, he would be there for you,” the younger Shaw said. “The day he was taken from us, we lost a brother, father, grandfather, son, uncle and friend. We miss his guidance and humor, he was a great role model.”

“The amount of pain caused has been profound, it will never cease to exist,” he added. “No amount of time or sentence will ever be enough … Our day to day life has been impacted by this event.”

The sentencing was preceded by a lengthy argument back and forth on the scoring guidelines. The guidelines had initially been 12 to 24 months in prison but ended up being 29 to 57 months in prison. Cass Circuit Judge Mark Herman ruled on a number of issues including scoring for injuries even when the victim dies and for offenses not charged.

In remarks before the sentencing, Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz noted the statements made by the victim’s son as well as two other family members who gave written remarks.

He said the facts show that Gary Shaw’s actions were intentional and not an accident.

“I hope the defendant finds redemption for what he did,” Fitz said. “Perhaps he does regret what he did, but he didn’t have any mercy for his brother when he pulled the trigger after pointing the gun at him.”

“I will close with this, he was fueled by anger, alcohol and jealousy and pointed the trigger at his brother,” he said. “He reasonably took away 30 years of the victim’s life … A beloved member of this community is gone because of what this man did. Having someone fire off shots is not a justification to take the gun and shoot him.”

Defense attorney Robert Drake called it a tragedy for everyone involved and even more so because the investigation was not thorough. “It is a tragedy for sure, but it is compounded when family members are told things no one knows are true,” he said.

Drake noted that we don’t have a “system of vengeance” but one of justice. He said Gary Shaw’s actions were not intentional or premeditated.

“There’s nothing to show he was violent or was a hair trigger loose cannon,” he said. “People in this country love their guns and their beer and here it was a tragic mess.”

Judge Herman told family members that nothing he did with the sentencing would change the fact that it was a tragic situation.

“My job here is to be impartial and handle cases without emotions,” he said. “… The guidelines aren’t going to make the victims happy and the sentence won’t replace their father but my hands are kind of tied.”

The judge noted that Gary Shaw has been married for 34 years, has three children and was a welder before he had a spinal cord injury.

“You have a seventh grade education but were able to raise and provide for your family,” he told Shaw. “You also spent a fair amount of time drinking and this is what happens when you mix guns and alcohol.”

“You are going to punish yourself for the rest of your life for killing your brother,” he added. “Nothing I can do to bring this family back together.”