LANCASTER – On May 15, 2013, Acton Water Co. owner Christopher Demyen was shot to death after a dispute “over a vehicle parking issue” in the 1500 block of Eagle Butte Road, authorities said.
Scott Shipley, the 57-year-old pest control operator on trial for Demyen’s murder, told his side of the story in an Antelope Valley courtroom Wednesday. Shipley claims he drew his revolver and shot 39-year-old Demyen in self-defense, after being “bludgeoned” with a tow hook.
“I was really scared,” Shipley told the jury.
Testifying for several hours Wednesday, Shipley carefully described the sequence of events that led up to the deadly confrontation.
Shipley said he had picked up his daughter from school and was driving back to his Acton home when he noticed a water truck blocking the shared driveway leading to his residence.
The water truck driver signaled that he would be about 20 minutes; and Shipley claims he shouted to the driver to unkink the hose so that the process would move faster.
Shipley said he called the number on the water truck to complain, and as he was leaving a message, an angry male voice (presumably Demyen) came on the line and hurled a string of expletives.
Shipley claims he hung up the phone; but the person called him back, twice, with “almost incoherent” “out of control” rantings.
At that point, Shipley said he left his pickup truck in the roadway, and he and his daughter walked up the hill to their home.
Once at home, Shipley changed clothes before taking his .38 revolver from the safe, loading it with bullets, and placing it in his back pocket, according to Shipley’s testimony. Shipley said he warned his children not to answer the door and then walked back to the scene to retrieve his pickup truck.
As he walked toward his pickup truck, he heard the sound of another vehicle “sliding out of control” as it came on the scene, Shipley testified. The driver (Demyen) exited the vehicle with a tow hook in hand, and attempted to attach the tow hook to the back of Shipley’s pickup truck, according to Shipley’s testimony.
Shipley testified that he was frozen in shock, and he claims Demyen said: ‘You motherf**cker! Move that f**king piece of sh*t! I’m gonna f**k you up and kill you!”
Shipley claims he walked over to Demyen and said, “don’t take my truck”; and then Demyen grabbed him by the shirt and began striking him in the face with the tow hook.
“I could hear my bones break,” Shipley testified, claiming he did not fight back. After taking a fist to the nose, “I drew my revolver and shot him,” Shipley said.
Shipley testified that, after the shooting, he “staggered” to his neighbor’s house for help.
“I said ‘he just tried to kill me with that tow hook, get an ambulance,’” Shipley testified.
Shipley’s defense attorney, Adam Kopperkin, showed the jury a picture of Shipley taken in the days following the incident. Shipley appeared to have two black eyes and bruising on his nose.
Accused killer: “I’m pretty much a celebrity… I am iconic.”
During cross-examination, prosecutor Thomas Trainor poked holes in Shipley’s self-defense story.
Shipley did not have a concealed carry permit and had taken no weapons training; he did not render aid to a dying Demyen or call authorities to report the shooting; and he had bragged about being a celebrity on a jailhouse phone call made just days after the shooting, Trainor pointed out during cross-examination.
Asked why he stuffed a loaded revolver in his back pocket before returning to the scene to retrieve his vehicle, Shipley said it was standard procedure for him to carry a loaded weapon on his expansive property. He said he carried the gun to protect himself from roaming wild animals.
Asked why he did not call 9-1-1 to report the shooting, Shipley said he was trying to regain his senses and he could not control the buttons on his cell phone. However, the prosecutor presented Shipley’s cell phone, which showed eight calls made in the minutes following the shooting – none of them to 9-1-1.
Asked why he did not render aid to a dying Demyen, but went home instead, Shipley said he had to check on his children. He said his children may have been in danger, not from Demyen, but from the “surly” water truck driver.
The prosecutor also played audio recordings from two phone calls Shipley made from jail on May 23 and 24, 2013.
On the first call, Shipley tells a giggling female: “At least you have a high-profile father. I’m [a] celebrity, and that’s good. Most of the people here are so nice to me. They’re treating me like a brother.”
Testifying in court Wednesday, Shipley claimed he could not recognize the female voice on the recording. The prosecutor played a second jailhouse phone call, this one with three people, including Shipley, on the line. Shipley could be heard saying: “I’m pretty much a celebrity…I have a certain notoriety here… I am iconic.”
Further, Shipley boasts about being able to see the respect on the deputies’ faces, and “loving” the attention.
Shipley said he could not recall whose voices were on the recording. He said the phone calls did not show a lack of remorse. Rather, he said a certain amount of notoriety was necessary for his safety in jail.
The trial continues Thursday.
UPDATED 4/25/14: Scott Shipley was found guilty of second-degree murder today. Read our latest story here.
Previous related stories: