Archive for Wednesday, July 24, 2002

Meeker convicted in Baldwin shooting

July 24, 2002

A second jury took just two hours Friday to reach the conclusion that a former Baldwin man was guilty of shooting his neighbor's boyfriend.

Stephen Meeker, 35, could be sentenced to as many as 41 months in prison for aggravated battery in the Oct. 14 shooting outside his former home in the 1200 block of Bison Court.

Meeker shot Steven Swafford, 33, Lawrence, three times with a 9 mm pistol during a neighborhood dispute. Meeker was also found guilty of attempted aggravated battery for shooting at Swafford's friend, Chris O'Neil, and aggravated assault for threatening Swafford's girlfriend, Kerry Chalmers, with the gun.

This was the second time Meeker had been tried on the three charges. After hearing six days of testimony and deliberating for eight hours in April, a jury was unable to reach a verdict in the case.

Court testimony revealed the shooting occurred after an ongoing dispute between the Meekers' and Chalmers' children escalated. Chalmers went to Meeker's house and confronted his wife, Erin Meeker, at the front door about the problem with the children.

Assistant Dist. Atty. Dan Dunbar said after the confrontation, Stephen Meeker, who had just gotten out of the shower, came out of the house naked, armed with the gun and pointed it at Chalmers. That was when Swafford and O'Neil ran toward Meeker, who began shooting at the two men without warning.

Swafford was shot in the hand, arm and hip. Despite surgeries, Swafford said he will probably never regain full use of the hand.

Meeker's attorney, Jim Rumsey, argued that Meeker had fired in self-defense and was trying to protect his wife, who he said had been threatened by Chalmers.

Meeker was free on $15,000 bond after the trial, but Judge Murphy revoked his bond Monday and remanded him to custody until his Aug. 16 sentencing date.

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