Felon’s freedom added to the grief suffered by Donald Holman’s family

08/03/2014 1:00 PM

08/03/2014 6:00 PM

For nearly a decade, Larry Shelton’s life spun around his felonies.

Beginning in 1996, he racked up six convictions for auto theft and various drug crimes. His misdemeanor convictions included resisting arrest and driving while intoxicated.

Judges repeatedly gave him probation or 120-day “shock time” sentences.

Then in January 2005, Jackson County prosecutors charged him with first-degree murder, assault, burglary, robbery, kidnapping and armed criminal action for helping two other men kill Donald Holman, a certified nursing assistant.

They lured Holman into a van to rob him. When he tried to escape, they killed him.

“Oh my goodness, when I heard that, that just tore me apart, it really did,” recalled his mother, Emma Holman.

When Donald Holman was a child, his eight older siblings squabbled over who got to watch the easygoing boy. Later his family savored his bear hugs.

After his death, they fought to contain their rage.

“It was nothing but the grace of God that kept us going, and kept us from hating, and kept us from getting out there like a mad mob, trying to hunt these people down and kill them,” said Bertha Johnson, Holman’s sister.

Shelton’s case plodded through the legal system, particularly after jail inmates beat him in 2009, court records showed.

He pleaded guilty in March 2011 — six years after Holman’s death — and received probation for kidnapping and second-degree murder.

By then, Holman’s family had lost touch with prosecutors.

“I feel that I’ve been cheated,” said Diane Holman, Holman’s sister. “We didn’t get a chance to go to court and give our input.”

Imprisoned on a weapons charge, Shelton was paroled in January 2012.

A year later, police answering a disturbance call struggled with Shelton as he discarded a pistol.

In April 2013, he pleaded guilty to illegally possessing a firearm. Having violated his probation rules, Shelton is serving 10 years related to Holman’s killing. After that, he’ll begin a 10-year federal sentence in the weapons case.

It pleases Holman’s family that Shelton is off the streets.

Johnson believes he eventually will face a higher judge.

“God will be the one that gives him his just deserts, however that may come by in the end.”

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