Franklin County prosecutors will seek the death penalty in the case of a Washington man charged with murdering a woman in a Union city park last summer.
Prosecuting Attorney Bob Parks filed the notice of intent to seek the death penalty for Timothy D. Shults, 45, in court Thursday afternoon. During the status hearing, Shults declined a plea bargain in exchange for a sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole.
Shults is charged with first-degree murder in the July 3, 2009, death of Deborah Marsch, 53.
Authorities say Shults strangled Marsch in Union's Autumn Hill Park in an apparent random act of violence.
The suspect told police that he did not know Marsch but that he was angry and she was "in the wrong place at the wrong time."
Investigators allege that Shults approached Marsch from behind, strangled her, then threw her body into the bed of his pickup truck and drove off.
Shults, according to reports, confessed to police on Sunday, July 5, that he killed the woman, then took detectives to the location where he dumped her body on land off Judith Spring Road west of Union.
The notice to seek the death penalty states that the prosecution intends to prove the following statutory aggravating circumstance in the murder:
"The murder in the first degree was outrageously or wantonly vile, horrible or inhuman in that it involved torture or depravity of mind in that the defendant's selection of the person he killed was random and without regard to the victim's identity and that defendant's killing of Deborah Marsch thereby exhibited a callous disregard for the sanctity of human life."
Shults remains in custody in the Franklin County Jail on a $1 million bond.
Authorities allege that the day after the murder Shults broke into his wife's home, waited for her to return, then told her that he wanted her to go with him and she consented.
He then drove her car to the Labadie area and told her to walk with him into the woods but she refused and eventually convinced him to release her, authorities allege.
Later Saturday, after the abduction was reported, Washington police began an investigation and on Sunday contacted Union police who were familiar with Shults and his ex-wife who lives in Union.
Detectives went to the ex-wife's home and found Shults there, according to police.