The Eastern District Missouri Court of Appeals has affirmed the conviction and sentence of a Washington man who murdered a Union woman in 2009.

In a memorandum handed down Tuesday, the appellate court held that there was no judicial error by the trial court in the case of Timothy D. Shults who was sentenced Oct. 3, 2011, to life in prison with no chance of parole for the murder of Deborah Marsch, 53, at Autumn Hill Park. The woman was strangled to death July 3, 2009.

Attorneys for Shults argued on appeal that the trial judge should have suppressed statements made by Shults to detectives because he did not understand his Miranda rights and that he was coerced into making statements to police.

The appeals court judges disagreed.

The Missouri attorney general’s office represented the state in the appeal. Shults was represented by the Missouri public defender’s office.

The Trial

Judge Gael Wood presided over a bench trial in the murder case after Shults waived a jury trial under an agreement that the  county prosecutor’s office would not seek the death penalty.

After initially claiming that he did not understand his rights given by police, Shults confessed on Sunday, July 5, 2009, that he killed the woman, then took detectives to the location where he dumped her body off Judith Spring Road. After locating the body, Shults then showed detectives where he hid the woman’s wig, false teeth and clothes. He said he hid those items separately to make it harder to identify the victim.

During police interviews, the suspect said he did not know Marsch but that he was angry and she was “in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

The prosecution stated that Shults reacted calmly enough to drag Marsch’s body from the murder scene to the parking lot of Autumn Hill Park, put her body in the bed of his truck and drive it to the site where the body was dumped.

Marsch had been missing for two days when authorities questioned Shults about an unrelated incident. Police knew Shults would sometimes go to Autumn Hill Park and asked about the woman’s disappearance.

Shults also was charged in a separate case with burglary, kidnapping, armed criminal action and violation of an order of protection, but those charges were later dismissed following his conviction.