Sandy Shaw Hearing: What Went Wrong? - 8 News NOW

George Knapp, I-Team Reporter

Sandy Shaw Hearing: What Went Wrong?

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Sandy Shaw - Age 15 Sandy Shaw - Age 15
Sandy Shaw Sandy Shaw
George Knapp talks with Sandy Shaw - 2004 George Knapp talks with Sandy Shaw - 2004

(Jan. 24) -- A Las Vegas woman who's served 18 years for her part in a notorious case known as the "Show and Tell Murder" did not appear before the Nevada State Board of Pardons on Friday as scheduled. Sandy Shaw's chance for freedom was snatched away at the last minute by state officials.

Sandy Shaw will have to wait at least six more months before she gets another chance to tell her story to the pardons board. She and her supporters thought they had a lot of momentum going into the hearing, but less than 24 hours before the scheduled meeting; Shaw's name was taken off the agenda for unspecified disciplinary problems. So what did she do?

"We had good arguments for her release, but little things make a difference."  Defense attorney Bill Terry thought he would spend his Friday in Carson City, where his client Sandy Shaw, was the first name on the agenda of the pardons board. But Thursday afternoon, he was told there would be no chance for clemency because of unspecified disciplinary infractions committed by Shaw while she was awaiting the hearing.

Shaw has served nearly 18 years in prison for her role in the infamous "Show and Tell Murder" of James Cotton Kelly back in 1986. Shaw was only 15 at the time. She and two other teens were convicted. Shaw received two life terms, even though her co-conspirators both said she didn't take part in the slaying itself. It wasn't easy for a youngster amid hardened adult criminals. The cocky kid put on a tough front and got into minor scrapes, as she admitted in our recent exclusive interview.

"Basically I wouldn't do what I was told. If they told me to work in the kitchen, I'd refuse to work. Really minor things," Shaw explained.

She settled down after a few years, improved her attitude, and hope for parole. For this hearing, she was transferred from the North Las Vegas women's prison to a men's facility in Carson City. Bill Terry says Shaw was harassed by male inmates relentlessly, and that he was worried she might get into trouble. Friends of Shaw say she was written up for contraband, but Terry cautions it's not what it sounds like.

Bill Terry, attorney for Sandy Shaw: "The type of write ups, contraband in the cell, normal people would think it's a weapon or illegal drugs. It could be a piece of bread from the dining commons taken back to eat at a later."

Terry hasn't seen a formal report but says the alleged infractions are very minor. Shaw's friends told the I-Team the problem centered on prescription medication that belonged to a cellmate. Terry says there will be a hearing to get to the bottom of the matter, but in the meantime, the pardons board yanked her from its agenda. It will be six months before she can get another chance. Ironically, one document Terry planned to deliver to the board was a letter from the corrections department saying Sandy should be given a chance -- that changed in the blink of an eye.

Bill Terry says it's probably best that Shaw was pulled from the agenda because if she had proceeded, she would have been turned down and couldn't reapply for a year or more. He plans to clear up the disciplinary matter and then once again approach the pardons board.

You might ask was Sandy Shaw supposedly in possession of contraband, meaning drugs. The way it was described is that both Shaw and her cellmate were prescribed the same medication by the prison. Shaw had asked a corrections officer to deliver a blanket and other items to another inmate who didn't have such items. The guard found a single pill in the blanket. The pill belonged to the cellmate, but Shaw was written up. The I-Team was also told the male officers don't like supervising female prisoners. It can be a volatile situation and it led to friction.

An update on another high profile female inmate, Jessica Williams, serving up to 40 years for her role in the deaths of six teenagers along I-15, will not only be back before the Nevada Supreme Court in February, she will also get a hearing in federal court. Judge Phil Pro agreed with Williams' attorney John Watkins that there is enough to merit an open hearing on the constitutionality of Williams' conviction. That hearing is set for Feb. 24.

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