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Shiflett sentenced to life without parole in stabbing death of Reisterstown woman

Jeffrey Michael Shiflett
Jeffrey Michael Shiflett (Baltimore County Police Photo)

A Baltimore County judge sentenced a 35-year-old man to life without possibility of parole Wednesday for the 2013 murder of a Reisterstown woman prosecutors said he had threatened for years.

Jeffrey Shiflett was convicted of first-degree murder and other charges in September in the stabbing of Katie Hadel, 33, at her apartment.

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Defendants typically make a brief statement to the court before being sentenced, but Shiflett spoke uninterrupted for 31/2 hours — an address that State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger called the longest he had ever heard from a defendant.

Circuit Judge Ruth Jakubowski was more succinct in her sentencing, calling Shiflett a danger to society and questioning his ability to ever be rehabilitated.

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"You have a serious problem with controlling your anger and your impulses," she said.

Prosecutors said Shiflett, who lived in Annapolis, killed Hadel in February 2013, stabbing her repeatedly in front of her daughter, a toddler at the time. Hadel had sought court protection from Shiflett.

Hadel's husband, Craig Gordon, and her mother, Robin Hadel, described in court the pain of their loss.

Robin Hadel said before her daughter's murder, the family had been like a chair with its legs firmly on the ground. Without Katie, she said, "we're dangling now."

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Hadel's family said she and Shiflett had known each other since middle school and briefly dated. Hadel had struggled with drug addiction but had turned her life around and mentored other recovering addicts, her mother said.

Katie's daughter, Ava, now 5, meant the world to her, Robin Hadel said.

Shiflett has suffered from mental illness for most of his life, according to testimony in court. He has been diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder and bipolar disorder, and experiences severe feelings of abandonment and persecution, said Dr. Joanna Brandt, a forensic psychiatrist.

Public defender James Sorensen asked the judge to give Shiflett the possibility of parole, saying it would give his client incentive to participate in mental health treatment. But Jakubowski declined.

During a profanity-laden address to the court Wednesday, Shiflett retrieved folders and envelopes of legal documents he had placed under his table, often waving pieces of paper in the air. He blamed Hadel for his legal troubles and said he had been wronged by a host of people over the years, including relatives, lawyers, judges, detectives and corrections officers. He said he never intended to kill Hadel, but only wanted to talk to her.

Members of Hadel's family said they were relieved by the sentence.

"It doesn't change anything, but at least he can never hurt anyone [else]," said her stepfather, Marc Binkley.

Shellenberger called the judge's decision "exactly what we were looking for from the beginning."

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