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A former suburban school bus driver in Illinois will now spend the rest of his life behind bars for a complicated – but ultimately foiled – double murder-for-hire scheme with a total of five would-be victims.
Christian Shepherd, 44, was sentenced to 76 years in prison on Tuesday for the flurry of attempted murders he solicited while awaiting trial on sexual assault charges, after being found guilty on seven separate counts related to the scheme in November 2022, according to the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office.
Several lesser crimes were not punished, however. Shepherd was sentenced to 39 years for solicitation of murder for hire and 37 years for solicitation of murder by Circuit Judge David Carlson. The defendant’s sentences will be served consecutively, and he was granted time-served credits for 4,625 days (roughly 12.5 years) in prison.
That effectively reduces his prison term to 63.5 years, a sentence that would not expire until Shepherd is well into his triple digits in age.
He was first arrested in April 2010, for a series of alleged sexual assaults that took place between 2004 and 2008 while he was babysitting the victim, according to the Shaw Local News Network.
As the initial charges against him were pending, Shepherd enlisted another inmate’s help to kill the victim, his mother, and two detectives, who were working on various sexual assault cases against him.
For those hits, the defendant offered Franklin Bryant “at least” $900, an Illinois appellate court ruling in the case explains.
“[Shepherd] gave Bryant a map to the residence of one of the intended victims and a written statement that Bryant was supposed to read while standing over the intended victims at the time of the killings,” the court case notes.
The hired gun went to the cops instead.
“Unbeknownst to defendant, however, Bryant turned the documents over to police officers at the jail and told the officers what defendant was planning,” the appellate decision continues. “Bryant agreed to wear a wire so that the police officers could get defendant on tape discussing and planning the murders. A detective who was working on the case contacted Assistant State’s Attorney Michael Knick for his assistance in the matter.”
Two months later, he enlisted a second inmate for assurances – to kill all of the four of the intended victims – and to cover his tracks by killing Bryant as well. This time, he offered Daniel Robinson his 2001 Ford Taurus and some cash advances from a credit card for the trouble. His plan hit a snag when the hired help went to police.
A plea deal was considered in 2016, but eventually that idea was scuttled. After various other delays, the defense and state went to trial late last year. A jury spent 90 minutes deliberating before finding Shepherd guilty on all of the counts against him.
In comments provided to Chicago-based independent TV station WGN, Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow savaged the defendant and exulted in the foiling of his plans.
“Shepherd is a soulless predator who was willing to take the lives of five human beings in a heinous attempt to avoid accountability for his own abhorrent crimes,” Glasgow said. “We will never know what might have happened if both inmates Shepherd tried to hire had not miraculously come forward to the police. They were a divine intervention that derailed Shepherd’s plans for the slaughter of five people. His potential victims now live with a lost sense of safety and security from knowing they were targets in a murder plot. Shepherd is an insidious miscreant who deserves every single day he will be spending in a cold, dark prison cell.”
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