Technical glitch cuts testimony short on second day of attempted murder trial

Technical glitch cuts testimony short on second day of attempted murder trial
Christian Shenk

The second day of testimony in the case of a Winfield man charged with second-degree attempted murder was cut short after a technical glitch caused the courthouse recording system to malfunction.

Christian Charles Shenk, 41, of the 4300 block of Salem Bottom Road, is charged with one count each of second-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault, reckless endangerment and firearm use in a crime of violence, according to electronic court records, after he allegedly shot at a process server who was serving him civil legal papers.


The trial continued Wednesday with the testimony of the process server, who requested that his name not appear in the Times. Due to the recording system malfunction, the process server was not able to finish his testimony.

The process server told the jury that he was attempting to serve papers multiple times on Dec. 22 at Shenk's house. He had several addresses that he was using to locate Shenk and discovered that the Salem Bottom address is owned by Shenk, he said.

He finally made contact with Shenk's girlfriend at about 10:30 that night and served the papers. He had one foot inside his car when Shenk appeared, yelling and shooting, he testified.

"He was shooting before he [we] had an interaction," the process server told the jury.

Senior Assistant State's Attorney Melissa Hockensmith introduced a 911 call the process server made, as well as a video of the incident filmed by Shenk's girlfriend. Both were played for the court.

In the 911 call, the process server can be heard telling a dispatcher that he was shot at about four to five times. He tells the dispatcher that Shenk, who is not identified, pointed a gun at him then shot at him four or five times. The process server then revised the number of shots to six or seven, according to the 911 call audio.

The process server said during testimony that he was afraid. He testified that he never made any threats or threatening movements toward the woman.

The video is dark, so movement and people can't be seen easily, but the audio is loud. In the video, the process server can be heard asking Shenk's girlfriend, who was filming, if she wants to see his identification, and she declines. The process server can be heard saying that he's serving the paperwork and asks to take a picture. The girlfriend loudly says he doesn't have her permission to take her picture and repeats the statement at least two more times, each time getting louder.

As she's talking about her picture, a man can be heard yelling, but it is unclear what he is saying. He is then heard yelling about the process server. At least two shots can be immediately heard in the video. The man, presumably Shenk, yells again, though it's unclear what he said, and then yells for the process server to get off his property. More shots are heard in the video.

The process server then gets into his car and starts to drive away. The girlfriend is heard saying "That's what I thought" as he drives away. About two more shots can then be heard. The girlfriend then tells Shenk she believes she got it all on the video.

There were a total of seven gunshot sounds on the video.

Before the video was played, Hockensmith had the process server identify several photographs, including some of the damage to the car. The process server pointed out bullet holes in at least the steering column of the car and the passenger-side front door, as well as a bullet fragment by the armrest. He also testified that there was damage from the shooting on the front bumper.

Defense attorney Richard Karceski focused his cross examination on questioning the process server's method for delivering legal papers, as well as how many times he had visited Shenk's property attempting to serve papers.

The process server testified he did not see any "no trespassing" signs during any of his several trips to the house.


The process server told Karceski that during his final trip, when he was shot at, he attempted to identify himself. He was getting ready to leave, as he served the papers, when he heard screaming and loud noises he later realized were gunshots, he testified.

He testified that he had one foot inside the car because he planned to de-escalate the situation. He then saw Shenk, about 5 to 10 feet away, pointing a rifle at him. He then sped down the approximately half-mile driveway.

Shenk continued to fire at him, he said.

It was during Karceski's cross examination of the process server when the recording system failed and the trial went into recess. The trial will resume at 9:30 a.m. Thursday. On Friday, the jury is expected to be taken to the site of the incident, as well as to a lot where the process server's car is located.