CUMBERLAND — Megan Shaffer was not interrogated, and she volunteered several versions of how Alexander Stevens died, according to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.
That opinion, filed Wednesday, affirms a 2018 ruling by Garrett County Administrative Judge Raymond Strubin, which rejected Shaffer’s arguments that statements she gave to a paramedic, and during a police investigation, should have been suppressed for her murder trial because they resulted from improper inducements.
Shaffer, formerly of Ridgeley, West Virginia, was 21 years old in March 2018 when a 12-member jury at Garrett County Circuit Court found her guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Stevens, 24, of Frostburg.
On Jan. 4, 2017, Stevens was found dead, naked and with his throat slashed at the bottom of a cliff known as High Rock within the Savage River State Forest in Garrett County near Pine Swamp Road.
"She could have walked away," Strubin said in July 2018, when he sentenced Shaffer to 30 years in prison.
The recent 15-page COSA decision states it “is an unreported opinion."
Maryland law governs when an opinion should be reported. Reported opinions may serve as a precedent. An unreported opinion won’t be published in law books and can’t be used as a case precedent.
“On appeal, Shaffer asks us to consider whether the circuit court erred in denying her motion to suppress four statements that she made during the investigation of the matter,” the COSA opinion states.
“Between January 4 and January 6, 2017, Shaffer, following Miranda advisements and the waiver of her rights, gave three recorded statements to Maryland State Police Sergeant Jonathan Martin, Master Trooper Eric Schramm, and Master Trooper Andrew Mason. All three interviews were conducted at the hospital where Shaffer was being treated,” the opinion states. “Although hypothermic, Shaffer did not suffer from any head or brain injuries, and medical personnel determined it was acceptable for police to speak with her.”
Shaffer produced no "objective evidence," such as hospital staff members or written policy manuals at the suppression hearing to support her claim.
“We, therefore, find no error in the suppression court’s denial of Shaffer’s motion to suppress the statements made to the police in the hospital,” the opinion states.
Shaffer had also requested suppression of a statement she made to paramedic Christopher Biggs when he responded to her 911 call shortly before police located the body of Stevens.
“The questions Biggs asked Shaffer related to her care and the possibility of a second victim, not to a criminal investigation,” the opinion states. “Moreover, Biggs did not direct the course of Shaffer’s statement; she volunteered the several versions of the events leading to Stevens’s death.”
Shaffer, 23, is serving her sentence at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women in Jessup, about a two-hour drive from Cumberland.
In October 2018, a panel of judges rejected her request to reduce her prison sentence.
Biggs is now Allegany County Department of Emergency Services’ EMS chief.
••• From the obituary of Alex Stevens •••
Alexander Arthur Stevens, 24, of Frostburg, passed away Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017. Born March 23, 1992, in Cumberland, to Jay and Janet (Martens) Stevens. He was preceded in death by his maternal grandfather, Carl Edward Martens and paternal grandparents, Arthur and Kathryn Stevens. He is survived by his parents, Jay and Janet Stevens, Eckhart Mines; a twin sister, Tristan Virginia Stevens, Baltimore; maternal grandmother, Nancy (Baker) Martens, Frostburg; aunts, Julie Forney and husband, John, Millersburg, Pa. and Joanna Schroyer, Grantsville; uncles, Jim Martens and wife, Carolin, Uniontown, Ohio and Jerry Martens and wife, Bonnie, Springfield, Ohio; cousins, Levi and Ben Schroyer, Jonathan Martens, and Samantha, Josh and Clay Martens; special great-aunt and uncle were the late Virginia (Wonn) Stevens and Clarence Buddy Stevens. Alex was a native of the Frostburg area, attended Beall High School and graduated from Mountain Ridge High School. In high school, Alex was active in plays and musicals having a fine baritone voice and was a member of the Concert Choir. He was the Pirate King in the Pirates of Penzance and played Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls. He was in Concert Band, Jazz Orchestra, and Marching Band all four years of high school. He was an accomplished visual artist. Alex participated in football, basketball, cross country and track at Mountain Ridge. He attended Cambridge University summer program for high school students in England. The Farrady Post 24 American Legion selected Alex as one of their representatives to Maryland Boys State. While in high school he enjoyed Boy Scouts and was Senior Patrol Leader achieving the rank of Eagle Scout. He gave the Senior Address at his high school graduation. He studied engineering at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., and later at Frostburg State University. Alex was a world traveler. Among the countries he visited were Britain, France, Germany, Denmark, The Netherlands, Spain, Ireland, Canada, and South Korea. He loved the outdoors and camping. He appreciated beauty in all things including music, the visual arts, and nature. He loved to stargaze, rock climb and hike. He had a great sense of humor and loved animals. Family and friends will be received at Durst Funeral Home, Frostburg, on Friday Jan. 13, 2017, from 3 to 7 p.m. A funeral service will be held at Frostburg United Methodist Church, on Saturday, Jan, 14, 2017, at 11 a.m. with the Rev. Kyle Durbin officiating. Interment will follow in Eckhart Cemetery. Pallbearers will be Tristan Stevens, Jonathan Martens, Joshua Martens, Clay Martens, Steven Moon, Michael Harden, and Eric Harman. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Frostburg United Methodist Church or the Allegany County Animal Shelter. Words of comfort may be sent to the family following the obituary at www.durstfuneralhome.com.