Couple gets time for heroin crimes
Katie Ann Hansen-Shaffer
8/16/2013 6:03:00 AM
KINGMAN - The cycle of drug abuse - and the sorrow that often accompanies it - was on display in a Mohave County courtroom on Wednesday when Judge Derek Carlisle sentenced to prison a pair of heroin dealers who sold drugs to pay for their own addictions.
Shawn Derrick Shaffer, 29, and his wife, 21-year-old Katie Ann Hansen-Shaffer, will spend the next two and a half years in an Arizona prison after pleading guilty to attempted possession of narcotics for sale.
The lesser charge was offered the pair in a plea deal and the Shaffers pleaded guilty a couple of months ago. The deal allowed them to avoid trial and escape much stiffer prison terms.
Undercover officers with the multi-agency Mohave Area General Narcotics Enforcement Team had the Shaffers under surveillance in Bullhead City for quite some time before they arrested them on May 8.
Shawn Shaffer was arrested in his car in possession of two grams of heroin. Katie Hansen-Shaffer was arrested at a motel room the couple was living - and where five more grams of heroin was located.
Defense attorneys told Carlisle their clients sold drugs to pay for their own drug habits.
Shawn Shaffer apologized to his parents and his in-laws, who were in the courtroom.
He said he's been reading the Bible since he was arrested and wants to obtain an education.
"I want to change my life," he said.
Shaffer also attempted to take responsibility for the heroin.
"My wife doesn't deserve this," he said. "I got us here and I feel like crap."
According to his stepfather, the life Shaffer has led might have been learned at a young age.
Larry Kendricks broke down and cried when he asked Carlisle to give his stepson a two-year rather than three-year term.
"My son, my stepson, has suffered with ADHD for his lifetime. They told us he might struggle with his education and drug addiction. We were worried this would come about. Shawn grew up in a house that had drug abuse," said Kendricks.
"I turned my life around," he told Carlisle. "Twelve years I've been clean. He wants to learn from my mistakes."
Prosecutors sought a three-year term and the defendants wanted two years. Carlisle met them in the middle.
The judge said he was disturbed by signs that heroin is "making a strong comeback" in Mohave County for whatever reason, and that he considers it almost as destructive as methamphetamine - but only because meth is more readily available and therefore more people are under its influence and involved in the illicit drug business.
In sentencing the pair, Carlisle didn't buy the argument they merely sold drugs to pay for their own heroin habits, but he did note MAGNET officers had to dress in protective hazardous materials clothing when they entered the motel room, where no fewer than 55 syringes were recovered.