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A murder trial scheduled for Monday was canceled after a last-minute settlement was reached in LaRue Circuit Court.
David McFarland, 45, of Magnolia admitted to a charge of first-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of 22-year-old Sabrina Shirley of Greensburg. He accepted an 18-year prison sentence with a requirement that he serve at least 85 percent of that term behind bars. The commonwealth’s attorney opposes probation. Final sentencing will be conducted Oct. 5.
He originally was charged with murder, domestic violence, after a three-month investigation by Kentucky State Police. Investigators had to first determine if the castle doctrine applied to the case. According to castle doctrine, officers could face civil penalties if they arrest someone and it is later determined they acted in self-defense.
McFarland reportedly told police he shot Shirley – his former stepdaughter – after she became violent at his home July 11, 2007. Shirley, a mother of two toddlers, was not carrying a weapon but allegedly broke items inside the home.
She was standing on the porch when McFarland shot her in the right eye with a 9-millimeter handgun, according to police.
According to the KSP investigation records, Shirley had gone to McFarland’s home at 1060 Bird Road “to confront McFarland about past issues.”
Judge Charles Sims III ruled Friday that those issues could be brought up during the trial. Court records show that Shirley’s final shouts at McFarland were overheard by neighbors. She allegedly accused him of abusing her during her childhood.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Whitney Meredith said the jury had been called in and security measures were in place Monday when McFarland agreed to the plea. At 10 a.m., the jurors were dismissed.
“I think it was a fair resolution for everybody – for her family and the facts that would have been presented at trial,” Meredith said.
Shirley’s mother, Annette Curry, attended Monday’s hearing, calling it “gut-wrenching.”
“Justice has finally been served,” Curry said. “It didn’t make it to trial, so a lot won’t be brought out. But at least he finally gets to do some time behind the real bars.”
Shirley’s husband Adam and their children, Keenan, 4, and Jenna, 2, have moved in with Curry.
“The (children) are doing wonderful,” Curry said. “Their dad is very good with them.”
Curry said she will appear at McFarland’s final sentencing Oct. 5 and at any future parole hearings.
“I can say what I want to then,” she said.