Trial of stepdaughter set in drug dose death

Trial of stepdaughter set in drug dose death

November 9th, 2011 by Kate Belz in News

Karri Willoughby

Karri Willoughby

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

A trial date has been set for a DeKalb County, Ala., woman accused of killing her stepfather with a lethal injection of propofol, the same drug that killed pop star Michael Jackson.

Karri Willoughby, 34, will stand trial before 9th Judicial Circuit Court Judge David A. Rains on Feb. 6, 2012, court records show.

Willoughby's stepfather, Billy "Junior" Shaw, 65, died in April 2008 of what authorities initially thought was a heart attack. Willoughby said she found Shaw dead in his Cartersville, Ala., home.

More than a year later, investigators had Shaw's body exhumed and autopsied after they received information that his death may not have been natural, according to the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office.

The Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences in Huntsville determined Shaw died of a lethal overdose of propofol, the sheriff's office said.

Willoughby was indicted on a charge of capital murder in May 2010. She has remained in the DeKalb County Jail without bond since then.

Investigators determined Willoughby took the supply of propofol from Chattanooga Surgery Center, where she worked as a nurse until 2009.

The drug is used for short-acting sedation purposes and is administered intravenously. Pop star Jackson's personal doctor Conrad Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter Monday after a jury determined he gave the singer a fatal dose of the drug in 2009.

Willoughby, a mother of two young children, long has maintained her innocence and has garnered support from more than 1,300 people who have joined her Facebook page, "Truth for Karri."

In a public letter Willoughby's husband posted to the page in October, she writes: "It's been a year since I last got to hug or kiss my kids and that is the cruelest torture anyone could inflict on me."

About the pending trial, she writes, "I really just want to get on with it. I want to get mine and my family's lives back to normal. I want my parents to be able to rest in peace."

At the time of the arrest, DeKalb County Sheriff Jimmy Harris said, "This is a very tragic situation. It is unfortunate, but our investigators and the district attorney could not have presented the case to the grand jury if we didn't have conclusive evidence."