Third woman connected to January 2020 killing of Jay County man sentenced

Crime
Hannah Knapke

JAY COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) – The third woman connected to the killing of a Jay County man over an apparent child custody battle has been sentenced.

On Thursday, a judge sentenced Hannah Knapke, 19, of Fort Recovery, Ohio to 10 years in prison and 7.5 years probation for her role in the Jan. 12, 2020 killing of 31-year-old Shea Briar.

Briar’s family released a statement after the sentencing.

“Twenty-two months after Shea’s murder justice has been served. Our family is so thankful for the Jay County Prosecutors office, Jay County Sheriff Department, Jay County Circuit Court and the community. Nothing will bring Shea back but we can now try and move forward by sharing his story and helping the community through the Shea Michael Briar Memorial Fund.”

Briar’s family

In September, Knapke pleaded guilty through a plea agreement to Voluntary Manslaughter Intentional killing commit – def. acted under “sudden heat,” according to court records.

Shelby-Hiestand-Esther-Stephen (1)
Pictured are, from left, Shelby Hiestand and Esther Stephen.

Shelby Hiestand and Ester Stephen have both been sentenced to 55 years each for the shooting death.

According to case documents, Stephen and Hiestand met at a church with Knapke where they discussed using Knapke as a driver to pick up Briar before killing him because the two had no known connections. Knapke told investigators she agreed to the plan of driving to the bridge on C.R. 125 W in Jay County with everyone involved where Briar would be killed.

There, while Stephen distracted Briar, Hiestand shot him in the heart through his back with the rifle, the affidavit says. Knapke was standing near Hiestand when the shooting happened.

Court records show Stephen and Briar were in a custody battle over a child. Briar intended to establish paternity for the child, petitioned for child custody, and filed to provide support, parenting time and a name change for the child.

The Fort Recovery Local Schools in Fort Recovery, Ohio confirmed Stephen and Hiestand were softball coaches at the school. Knapke had been a member of the team.

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