Man denied appeal in murder case

Was convicted in 2018 of shooting mother of his child

WARREN — A man convicted of the shooting death of the mother of his child lost an appeal.

Shaun R. Simpson, 25, is being held in the NorthEast Ohio Correctional Center after he was convicted in 2018 in a bench trial before Trumbull County Common Pleas Court Judge W. Wyatt McKay on charges of murder, felonious assault and tampering with evidence. He was sentenced to 18-years-to-life behind bars and is eligible for a parole hearing in 2034, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections.

Becky Lynn Pyne was 22 when she was shot while holding their baby at the couple’s 229 S. Leavitt Road home. She died Nov. 12, 2016, at Trumbull Memorial Hospital.

Simpson wanted the 11th District Court of Appeals to rule the lower court erred when it allowed him to opt for a bench trial instead of a jury trial, according to court documents.

But McKay ensured Simpson understood the difference between a jury trial and a bench trial, and Simpson spoke to his attorney numerous times about the decision before the judge allowed the bench trial to proceed, the opinion issued by the court of appeals on Monday states. And Simpson signed a written waiver, showing he made a “knowing, voluntary and intelligent” decision, the opinion states.

Simpson’s attorney told the judge, “The defendant has said to me in the past, given the circumstances and everything, he has felt that it might be a better way to go to try it to the court. He again reiterated that this morning. After my last visit to him I asked him to continue to think about it, and I brought up on more than one occasion the issue of a hung jury versus a non-hung jury. This morning, he indicated to me that he’s thought about it at length and he still wants to go with that process,” according to the court document.

The appeals court dismissed all of the errors Simpson alleged, including one claim that his defense counsel was ineffective. His attorney should have allowed him to testify, the appeal states. However, trial strategy alone isn’t proof an attorney was ineffective, the appeals judge ruled.

Simpson said he was holding a gun he thought was unloaded when he pointed it at Pyne as a joke while he was on the phone with a friend in prison. The gun just went off, Simpson said. Prosecutors argued Simpson meant to shoot Pyne.

After she was shot, he left the blood-covered infant in their house and drove Pyne to the hospital, left her there when he went back to take the baby to a relative’s house and then when back to the hospital. He tossed the gun out of the car on the way to the hospital, he told police.

Simpson originally told police Pyne was shot by a man who robbed them, but later admitted he shot her, by accident.

rfox@tribtoday.com

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