TORONTO â€” A Canadian-American man who fled from Ohio to Quebec after strangling his high school sweetheart with a belt has pleaded guilty to murder and been sentenced to life behind bars.
Kyle Sheppard, 33, of Toledo, Ohio, who’d been scheduled to go on trial next month, will have to serve at least 15 years in prison before being eligible for parole.
The case arose when Katie Sheppard, 29, who worked for a dry-cleaning business, failed to report to work on Friday, Nov. 2, 2012. A friend, concerned for her safety, went with her boss to her home and found the house locked.
That evening, an officer found her body, which police said had been “posed” with the hands folded across each other, on the front porch of her home. She had been strangled with a belt and wrapped in a blanket.
Court documents show the couple had been married for four years and had been together since high school. The relationship had soured and Kyle Sheppard discovered his wife was having an affair with a co-worker.
On the morning of the murder, Kyle Sheppard â€” a former U.S. marine â€” sent an angry text message with sexually explicit language to her lover.
Sheppard, who was originally from Windsor, Ont., and worked at an auto-parts supplier in Toledo, had called that morning to say he would not be at work.
The dual citizen drove into Canada via Windsor after the killing, prompting authorities in the province to issue an alert for his vehicle. Two days later, he called police from a motel in Saguenay, Que., north of Quebec City and surrendered. He also confessed to them.
Sheppard then spent several years in custody in Montreal fighting extradition to the United States. In part, he argued his statements to police should have been excluded and that he could face the death penalty.
The extradition judge ultimately did find police had violated his constitutional rights by interrogating him, and excluded the confession evidence. However, the Superior Court judge ruled in October 2013 that there was still enough reason to extradite him on murder charges. Canada agreed to the extradition in April 2014.
He was finally handed over to American authorities after the Quebec Court of Appeal refused in June last year to overturn the extradition order.
Sheppard admitted in court in Toledo last week that he strangled his wife until he heard her neck pop, the Toledo Blade reported. He also insisted he had lost his “best friend,” still loved her and had planned to grow old with her.
“Deception and betrayal should never be fatal,” Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Linda Jennings said in sentencing him. “You did the unthinkable to someone who you vowed to love, honor, and cherish.”
The prosecution said the accused had used his cellphone to search for “how to kill your wife and get away with it.”
Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press