Sutton gets 35 years in Kevil shooting

Shawn Sutton (left), listens with defense investigator Brent Haire (center) and defense attorney Robin Irwin as a judge reads the jury's verdict against him. The jury convicted Sutton of first-degree assault, attempted murder and other charges, and a judge sentenced him to the recommended 35 years.


As a judge read “guilty” after “guilty” from jury forms, Shawn Sutton’s victims shed tears, fingered crosses and tapped their feet, while Sutton kept a resigned expression.

Troy Risley and his wife, Jennifer Risley, Sutton’s ex-girlfriend, shared a tearful embrace after Circuit Judge Tim Kaltenbach read the verdict.

A McCracken County jury convicted Sutton on 11 charges relating to the February 11, 2018, shooting of Troy Risley and its surrounding events.

Sutton received a 20-year sentence for first-degree assault on Troy Risley and a 15-year sentence for attempted murder of Jennifer Risley. His other convictions were ordered to run concurrently.

Sutton waived a presentence report, and Kaltenbach sentenced him Tuesday evening, after the jurors had been dismissed.

Sutton admitted during his testimony to shooting Risley in the face and arm after entering the home where his ex-girlfriend was living at the time.

Prosecutors characterized the incident as Sutton exercising control over Jennifer Risley (then Jennifer Davis), not allowing her to make her own relationship decisions, invoking her testimony that Sutton had told her “If I can’t have you, no one else will.”

Sutton testified Tuesday morning, telling jurors about how his relationship with Jennifer Risley began, fondly recalling memories and testifying that he loved her and her children.

When Defense Attorney Robin Irwin asked about the night of the shooting, Sutton claimed he thought he was just going to the home he had shared with his ex-girlfriend before he moved to Kansas.

He said he “just saw red” after seeing another man in the window, which precipitated his ransacking of the landlord’s house, including the theft of three guns.

Sutton said he found a .357 revolver in a beer box after he had taken it from the landlord’s house, and he took it into the home after he “pushed” the door open, intending to scare the occupants.

Sutton said he never knew the children were present in the house until after he shot Troy Risley, put his hand on his ex-girlfriend’s head and decided to leave.

Three juvenile witnesses and Jennifer Risley all testified Monday that Sutton put a gun to her head, but Sutton claimed his gun hand may have come into proximity with her head after he lowered it, and he never intended to shoot her.

Under a surgical cross-examination from Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Raymond McGee, Sutton admitted to many elements of the various charges against him, admitting to intentionally taking guns and ammunition — knowing and intelligent actions that McGee used to undercut his defense team’s “extreme emotional disturbance” claim.

Two doctors also testified Tuesday about Risley’s injuries and their effects.

Irwin attempted to paint Jennifer Risley as manipulating Sutton, but McGee contended Sutton just couldn’t let go.

“Domestic violence is about control,” he said.

In addition to the two most serious charges, Sutton was sentenced to five years for first-degree wanton endangerment, 10 years each on two counts of first-degree burglary, five years on one count of firearm theft, two years on one count of theft between $500 and $10,000, 12 months on one count of theft under $500, and 90 days each on three counts of menacing which were reduced from the original charges of first-degree wanton endangerment.

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