Accused Murderer Pleads to Lesser Charge

A Salina man who was facing a court ordered new trial after previously being convicted in a murder for hire case on charges which include first degree felony murder won’t face trial again after agreeing to a plea deal on a lesser charge with the Saline County Attorney’s Office.

According to Saline County District Court records filed on Friday, 39-year-old Brandon St. Clair and the Saline County Attorney’s Office have agreed to an Alford guilty plea to the lesser charge of attempted aggravated kidnapping.  An Alford plead is a guilty plea in which a defendant maintains their innocence but admits that the prosecution’s evidence would likely result in a guilty verdict if brought to trial.

The case stems from the 2017 murder of 29-year-old Brandon Shelby. On June 6, 2017, Shelby’s body was discovered east of the North Street bridge over the Smoky Hill River. An autopsy revealed Shelby had been stabbed five times in the left side of the neck and also had been struck several times on the back of the head.

St. Clair was convicted by a jury in the case in 2018 on multiple counts, including, first degree felony murder,  aggravated kidnapping, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, aggravated burglary, and robbery. Following a successful appeal, a retrial was later ordered.

Three other defendants previously also reached plea agreements. They are:

  • Austin Ray Bott
  • Charles Henry Rodgers
  • James Ervin Pavey

St. Clair’s aggravated kidnapping charge carries a sentence of a minimum of 55 months and up to 247 in prison, with a potential fine of up to $300,000.