INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - A mother and ex-wife shot multiple times outside her child's daycare four years ago has passed away.
Despite multiple surgeries, doctors had to leave several of the bullets inside her body. Shirley Justice suffered massive internal injuries to several major organs.
Shirley Justice talked exclusively with Andrea Morehead during her uphill battle to recover after being shot 14 times.
It would mean several surgeries and a lot of determination.
On February 18, 2014, Justice dropped off her daughter at Kinder Kare Daycare on West 38th Street in Eagle Creek. That's when her estranged husband Christopher Justice surprised her with a gun outside. Shirley was shot more than a dozen times and clung to life.
Christopher Justice is serving a 24-year sentence for attempted murder after being convicted last year. His trial had several delays because Shirley needed more time to recover so she could testify about the shooting.
"She would sometimes call me and say another bullet fell out," said Det. [Marcus] Kennedy. "She was a super strong lady, it broke my heart, too, to hear she passed away."
Kennedy is one of IMPD's veteran homicide detectives assigned to the case. He had to write the final probable cause against Justice with help from Shirley about the gunfire. Kennedy eventually got to talk to her at her hospital bedside and during her years of rehab.
Eyewitness News has learned despite Shirley Justice not surviving the massive injuries, prosecutors have decided Indiana's jeopardy law doesn't allow them to upgrade his charges to murder.I never got to personally meet Shirley Justice. But I knew of her courage. I spoke by phone to Shirley about problems she had when she tried to "lazy judge" a Marion County Superior Court judge who had failed to make a timely ruling in a custody dispute. The judge had apparently issued a ruling after the lazy judge filing (which judges are not allowed to do), finding against Shirley and for Christopher. (I researched the court file and confirmed what Shirley was claiming.) After the shooting, the case was taken away from the judge by the Indiana Supreme Court.
Shirley had wanted to get her story out and knew I was not only an attorney but a blogger. It was shortly after our conversation that she was shot fourteen times by her husband, Christopher Justice outside the day care center. I went ahead and wrote the story only to find shortly thereafter a grievance filed against me by the Disciplinary Commission contending that I had violated attorney-client privilege, revealing confidential details against Shirley's wishes.
I think the Commission simply assumed Shirley was going to die soon and would not be around to contradict the allegation the Commission was essentially making on her behalf. But Shirley did not die. As she clung to her life, she talked to a Disciplinary Commission investigator (which conversation she recorded) and let him know in no uncertain terms that I did not violate her confidentiality and she had wanted me to write about her case on my blog. She said she wanted the grievance against me dropped. The Commission did exactly that, no doubt reluctantly since the Commission had been on a warpath against me following critical blog articles I had written about the Commission and its Executive Secretary G. Michael Witte.
In the years that followed, I lost touch with Shirley. I did not know that she continued to suffer physical problems from the shooting that would eventually take her life. I so regret not knowing that and not learning of her passing until this week. I would have welcomed the opportunity to attend her funeral to tell her family what a wonderful and courageous woman she was. Shirley Justice is nothing less than a hero to me, someone who did the right thing even when it was not easy to do so. This world could use a lot more people like Shirley Justice.
Note: Shirley's family has established a Go Fund Me page to help defray the considerable expenses associated with her passing. Please consider contributing.