Keokuk County sheriff receives deferred judgment on OWI charge - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Keokuk County sheriff receives deferred judgment on OWI charge

Sheriff Jeff Shipley Sheriff Jeff Shipley
Deputy Eric Stein Deputy Eric Stein
Jeff Krier Jeff Krier

The Washington County Attorney announced Friday that an OWI charge against Keokuk County Sheriff Jeff Shipley will be dismissed if he completes an alcohol treatment program and stays out of trouble.

Shipley, 46 was stopped by the Iowa State Patrol in Sigourney on July 27, 2011 and charged with operating while intoxicated, first offense.  The Washington County Attorney's Office took the case to avoid any conflict of interest. 

Washington County Attorney Larry Brock said on Friday that he felt they would have a difficult time getting a guilty conviction from a jury on the charge and instead struck a plea agreement that Shipley receive a substance abuse evaluation.

"I don't believe he was given special treatment.  If I had had evidence that he was falling down drunk, that his speech was slurred, I would have felt much stronger about pursuing the case," Brock said.

In 2008, Shipley was convicted of operating a boat while intoxicated in Johnson County.  He received two days in jail and a suspended fine.  He was not the sheriff at the time.

Some in Keokuk County, who asked to remain anonymous, believe Shipley wasn't held to the same standards as others charged with OWI's.

Others we spoke with believe in the sheriff's innocence, and were happy to see the charge dismissed.

Defense attorney Dean Keegan out of Iowa City says a vast majority of his practice is OWI defense.  Keegan says it is not unheard of for the dismissal of OWI charges, similar to the outcome of Shipley's case.

"The reality is for the Washington County attorney, they have no vested interest in Keokuk County law enforcement officers, and it would have been much easier to just go forward thinking you would lose and say well the jury just didn't buy it.  The harder act is to dismiss it against a public official," Keegan said.

On April 4, 2011, Shipley was on the scene when Deputy Eric Stein was shot and killed during a standoff with Jeff Krier in rural Keokuk County.  Krier was shot and killed by the Iowa State Patrol Tactical Unit.

Brock says one of the factors that would make it difficult for a guilty conviction is that the emotional nature of Shipley's loss of a friend and colleague could have played a role in jury deliberations.

Brock also referenced Shipley's refusal of a breath test and that he appeared relatively in control as challenges to proving beyond a reasonable doubt Shipley's was under the influence of alcohol.

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