Woman handed 55 years in killing of child’s father

Crime

PORTLAND, Ind. (WANE) — A Portland woman found guilty in the killing of her child’s father has been sentenced.

A Jay Circuit Court judge on Tuesday sentenced Esther J. Stephen to 55 years for murder in the Jan. 12, 2020, shooting death of Shea Briar.

Pictured are, from left, Shelby Hiestand and Esther Stephen.

A jury found Stephen guilty of the crime in March.

According to court documents, Stephen and another woman – then-18-year-old Shelby Hiestand – met at a Fairview church, where they called Briar. The pair then picked up Briar at his Portland home and the three drove to a bridge on C.R. 125 West.

On the bridge, while Stephen distracted Briar, Hiestand shot him in the back with a .22-caliber rifle, according to court records.

Briar was found in the roadway around 2 a.m. Jan. 12. He was taken to a Decatur hospital then transferred to a Fort Wayne hospital, where he was pronounce dead.

Stephen and Hiestand were arrested on Jan. 14.

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.

Hiestand is set to stand trial Aug. 9.

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