The western Iowa woman accused of killing her husband and hiding his body in a bedroom for more than a year gave emotional testimony today on the alleged abuse that she says led her to kill him. Dixie Shanahan of Defiance took the stand in her own defense and recounted the various types of abuse she says she suffered at the hands of her husband Scott. She says that abuse include being tied up and held captive on several occasions. On one occasion, Scott bound Dixie’s hands behind her back with a clothes hangar and told her, “I could let you sit here and die, and nobody would even know the difference.” Shanahan’s defense attorney, Greg Steensland pressed her for more details about this incident.
She said she was left there for two days and wasn’t allowed to go to the bathroom, so she wet herself.
Shanahan testified that she shot Scott Shanahan on August 30th of 2002, after Scott had thrown her to the ground and threatened to kill her and her unborn child. She said she thought Scott was going for a shotgun, so she grabbed the shotgun first and shot him. Shanahan testified that she feared for her life and for her unborn child, which is why she shot her husband.
In cross-examination, prosecutor Charles Thoman grilled Shanahan about checks she wrote, in Scott’s name, in the weeks after she killed him. Thoman says Shanahan wrote nearly two-thousand-dollars worth of checks in Scott’s name, drawn on Scott’s inheritance account, which was zeroed out at the time. When the businesses came calling about the bad checks, Shanahan told them that Scott had written the checks and that he had moved away. He asked her if she wrote the letters telling the merchant that Scott wrote the checks. She said “yes.” Thoman said she was “blaming Scott for something you did.” She again replied, “yes.” Thoman has been arguing that Dixie Shanahan shot Scott Shanahan as he slept, because Scott’s 150-thousand-dollar inheritance had reached zero. Thoman also questioned Shanahan about exaggerating the claims of abuse. Thoman cited a letter she wrote to the court in 1998 after Scott had been arrested for abuse. In the letter, Shanahan said she had exaggerated the claims of abuse, and that she wanted the domestic violence charges against Scott to be dropped:
He asked her if the letter was true, she replied “that is what I wrote at the time.” He then asked her if she lied to the court, and Shanahan replied, “Yes, I did,” prompting Thoman to say, “I see.” The defense called one more witness after Shanahan, a woman from the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence, who talked about the behavior of abused women. The trial has adjourned for the day and will resume Wednesday morning.