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Shaw a candidate for death penalty

At this moment, accused child killer and rapist Nathan Todd Shaw sits behind bars at the Blair County Prison, awaiting his preliminary hearing in what has become a high-profile homicide case.
Shaw, 25, Tyrone, was charged Tuesday, accused of murdering a 6-year-old Tyrone boy and brutally beating and raping the child’s mother the night after Christmas, then stealing the woman’s car and driving half-way across the country, apparently to escape apprehension.
The mother, who used to date Shaw, was restrained with duct tape prior to the attack and, since that night, has testified and maintained that Shaw was the lone assailant.
What’s next for Shaw? Two lead players in the prosecution’s case spoke with The Daily Herald this week about what can be expected, why officials waited so long to file charges against Shaw when there were no other apparent suspects and whether prosecutors will seek the death penalty.
“We wanted to make 100 percent sure that we had the most complete picture of the events of that night as we could,” explained Tyrone Borough Police chief Joe Beachem, referring to the two-week time period between the crimes and the filing of charges. “While Mr. Shaw was safely in custody in Oklahoma, we were busy gathering and studying the evidence so the best case could be built.
“He’s not answering any questions with regard to Dec. 26 so we’ve been very meticulous when gathering evidence and testimony. We were very happy to get the level of cooperation we received from the authorities in Oklahoma. They were very understanding of the situation here and did everything they could to help us.”
Arrested in the Panhandle State for eluding police and for possession of stolen property (the red Nissan Sentra “getaway car”), Shaw was remanded to Kay County (Oklahoma) Prison just two days after the murder of Jared Klein. An Oklahoma judge set Shaw’s bail at $1 million to ensure, according to the Kay County district attorney’s office, he would “stay put” while decisions were made and extradition was being arranged.
“There was a concerted effort on all levels to bring Mr. Shaw to justice,” said new Blair County District Attorney Richard Consiglio.
“From the Tyrone Borough Police, including Chief Beachem and Officer (Jeffrey) Barr and the other officers who worked extra hours to bring this investigation together, to the state police and its evidence collection unit, to the Blair County court system and the Kay County district attorney’s office, everyone cooperated which enabled us to bring Shaw in and have a strong case against him.”
A preliminary hearing, scheduled for next Tuesday, will more than likely be continued until later in the month, according to Consiglio, due in part to a heavy court calendar and also due to the fact that Shaw has only recently requested a public defender.
When will officials decide whether to seek the death penalty? The Blair County District Attorney said it’s not time just yet.
“We haven’t made that decision,” Consiglio said. “We probably won’t do that until Mr. Shaw’s formal arraignment which will follow the preliminary hearing. At the formal arraignment, defendants generally enter a plea and that’s when we feel we will decide if the death penalty is called for.
“There are a lot of factors that help us determine whether to ask for the death penalty,” he continued.
Interestingly, Consiglio successfully prosecuted the last death penalty case in Blair County six years ago when convicted murderer and Altoona resident William Wright was sentenced to death for the fatal shooting of James Mowery.
“There’s a law in Pennsylvania that states the homicide itself has no bearing on whether the death penalty is appropriate. There is actually a list of 11 aggravating factors to choose from, including, for instance, if it’s a police officer who’s killed, or if the defendant has a significant felony record, or if the individual was committing another felony when the homicide took place. If any of these factors exist, it then gives justification to ask for the death penalty.”
Shaw, a recent parolee, was being housed in state prison for an assault and has a somewhat lengthy “relationship” with the police, which would seem to fit the “significant felony record” stipulation of the law. He’s also accused of raping his murder victim’s mother the night of the killing, which, if Shaw is convicted of the rape charge, would fit the “commission of another felony” point.
Another important factor found on the “death penalty hot list,” according to Consiglio, is the killing of a young child.
“This factor definitely applies in the murder of Jared Klein,” the district attorney said.
Meanwhile, Shaw will remain in Blair County Prison while legal proceedings unravel. Consiglio said he hopes things continue to move forward at a steady pace.
Chief Beachem said he’s glad so many came together to bring Shaw in.
He’s determined to continue to build a case that brings at least some closure to the victims.
“We have certain pieces of evidence being analyzed at the state police crime lab as we speak,” Beachem noted. “We’re not sure when we’ll be getting those results back, but we’ve been assured it will be in the fastest manner possible.
“We have been very careful with this investigation and we absolutely feel we have the right man. We owe it to any victim of crime to do our job the best way we can and that’s what we’re trying to do.”