The death of a Palestine man last April was ruled a suicide by a Crawford County coroner's jury.
Crawford County Coroner Earl Deckard held an inquest Monday night into the April, death of Shane L. Garrard, 36, 109 1/2 Grand Prairie, Palestine.
Garrard was found unresponsive by his girlfriend, Michelle Matheny, in the apartment they shared around 11 a.m. April 21. Garrard was later declared dead at Crawford Memorial Hospital.
The jury heard testimony from Crawford County Sheriff's Deputy Sgt. Eric Leckey, who was the lead investigator in the case, forensic pathologist Dr. Roland Kohr and Matheny.
Based on interviews about the hours before and after Garrard's death, Leckey said he was able to establish a timeline of events and conversations that may have led Garrard to take his own life.
Leckey testified that Garrard believed Matheny and her ex-husband, Denny Snow, were involved in a sexual relationship, which both Matheny and Snow denied.
On the evening of April 20, Matheny and her friend, Tonya Holubek, meet for drinks at the Togie II bar in Robinson. Snow was also at the bar. Matheny told Leckey that Garrard had called her several times and asked if Snow was there. Leckey also testified that Snow told him that Garrard had called him on the bar telephone and asked if he was in a sexual relationship with Matheny, which he denied.
Matheny then went home to pick up Garrard and met with Holubek at the Eagles Lodge in Palestine for supper. Upon leaving the Eagles, Matheny testified that Garrard confronted her about the relationship with Snow, ripping her blouse. Matheny also testified that she and Garrard argued and struggled with one another in the entryway to their apartment. Matheny said she then left and went to her sister's residence.
Leckey testified that Garrard made several phone calls to his brother, Steven Garrard, about the events of the evening and asking for a ride to work, as he did not believe Matheny would take him. Garrard worked at the Rowe Foundry, Martinsville, and his shift started at 4:30 a.m.
Matheny returned to the apartment just before midnight. She testified that before going to bed, Garrard put something in his mouth. She also testified that she contacted Steven Garrard to come and get his brother, who she believed had taken something. Matheny said Steven refused to come and told her that Shane just needed to "sleep it off."
About 3 a.m., Matheny said she tried to wake Garrard, but couldn't. She then texted his boss, saying he was sick and would not be at work. About 7 a.m., Matheny said she got up so she could meet her friend Holubek for breakfast at 9 a.m. She testified that Garrard was still asleep and snoring when she left. She also testified that she left a note for Garrard telling him that she was tired of the abuse and wanted him out of the apartment.
When Matheny returned about 11 a.m. Garrard was not breathing and had something coming from his mouth. She called 911 for help.
LaMotte Fire Protection District firefighters arrived on the scene first, and Garrard was taken to CMH by United Life Care Ambulance Service.
Following Garrard's death, Leckey testified that he photographically documented four small abrasions on Garrard's body. An autopsy performed by Kohr, and the toxicology report, revealed that Garrard had a blood alcohol level of around .07, a level of hydrocodone consistent with a prescription Garrard had, and extremely high levels of the muscle relaxer Flexeril. Kohr testified that the amount of Flexeril in Garrard's system was at least 15 times the highest dosage amount. He also testified that the amount of Flexeril in Garrard's system was consistent with someone who took the drug intentionally rather than accidentally.
Kohr concluded that Garrard died of pulmonary congestion and edema, a buildup of fluid in the lungs, caused by a drug overdose.
Following Garrard's death, his mother, Sandra S. Keenan, Hutsonville, told the police and coroner that she had heard that her son may have been beaten on the night of April 20, possibly by Snow, and that contributed to his death.
Leckey testified that after interviewing several people who were supposed to have knowledge of the alleged beating, he could not confirm that one took place.
Leckey also testified that the autopsy done by Kohr did not reveal any signs of trauma on Garrard's body consistent with a recent beating.
The jury deliberated for around 30 minutes before returning a verdict of death by suicide by pharmaceutical intoxication.
Following the verdict, Deckard said that he and the sheriff's department put many of hours into investigating this case, and believes the jury was satisfied with the evidence and it was consistent with the verdict.