IRONTON — The bond for Dixie A. Shunk, charged with murdering her son last week, was reduced to $150,000 Tuesday during her arraignment hearing at which she pleaded not guilty, but the 66-year-old defendant remains in the Iron County Jail.
Associate Circuit Judge Kelly Parker reduced the bond on the second-degree murder charge from $250,000. Relatives and friends of Shunk still could not come up with the necessary security to gain her release.
The judge announced the Missouri Public Defender’s Office has determined Shunk does not qualify for legal representation from that office. She was instructed to secure private counsel for her defense.
Judge Parker also scheduled Shunk’s preliminary hearing for March 7 in his court. At that time the judge will determine from evidence presented whether there is reason to believe a crime was committed and probable cause to believe Shunk committed the crime.
Even as the arraignment took place, friends and relatives continued to demonstrate outside the courthouse. They protested her arrest, asking that charges be dismissed and she be released from jail.
One longtime friend described Shunk as being “a hero” rather than a criminal. “She saved the lives of her husband, her grandchildren and her own life,” the woman declared.
The second-degree murder charge alleges that Shunk shot her 41-year-old son, Joe Shunk Jr., twice with a 16-gauge shotgun. The shooting occurred at the defendant’s home on Route W just east of the Highway 21 intersection. She is also charged with armed criminal action.
Joe Shunk Sr., and his daughter-in-law, Joyce Shunk, say the shooting was a clear-cut case of self defense. They said the younger Shunk had physically and mentally abused all members of the family for years.
The husband of the defendant said his son had flourished a shotgun, threatening to kill him and his wife, on the evening that the shooting occurred. The older Shunk said the son had also broken four of his mother’s ribs in an incident just a few weeks ago.
Five members of the Shunk family said Monday they all feared for their lives because of Joe Shunk Jr.’s, assaultive behavior.
Nearly 50 people took part in a demonstration Monday outside the office of Prosecuting Attorney Carl Strange. They also described Mrs. Shunk as the victim and not a criminal in this matter.