The Iowa Supreme Court has upheld the second-degree murder conviction against a western Iowa woman who killed her husband in the summer of 2002, and left his body in a bedroom for over a year. Dixie Shannahan Duty appealed her conviction, arguing her lawyer was ineffective and authorities had no right to search her house when they were looking for her missing husband.
Scott Shannahan’s body was found in the couple’s Defiance, Iowa home and his wife, who married after being charged, was sentenced to 50 years in prison in 2004. Dixie Shannahan Duty contends she killed her abusive husband because she feared for her life, and the life of her unborn child.
The Supreme Court has rejected the woman’s appeal, saying there’s no evidence her husband was threatening her at the time of the shooting since he was shot in the back of the head as he lay in bed, but the court’s ruling indicates Duty may appeal again to reduce the length of her sentence, primarily by presenting a “battered wife” defense which was not fully pursued at her trial.