When a McClellandtown man goes to trial for criminal homicide, his defense attorney will be barred from questioning a key prosecution witness about the criminal charges she’s currently facing.
Christopher Shellhammer, 31, is charged with fatally shooting Michael S. Henrick, 39, at a Masontown home in January 2018. Kelly French, 26, of McClellandtown was Henrick’s fiancée, and testified previously she witnessed the shooting.
Shellhammer’s attorney has said his client shot Henrick in self-defense. Prosecutors said Henrick was unarmed when he was killed.
Assistant Public Defender Michael Aubele argued that he should be allowed to question French about allegations that she and another man set someone up to be assaulted and robbed.
Aubele asked a judge to let him question French about those charges, contending there are similarities between how Shellhammer ended up at her home, and how the alleged victim from earlier this year ended up there.
Because Henrick was killed in January 2018 and French was charged in January 2019, prosecutors contended that too much time had passed between Shellhammer’s charges and French’s charges to establish a reasonable connection. Prosecutors also noted that French has not been convicted of any of the crimes she’s been accused of committing.
While Senior Judge Gerald R. Solomon barred Aubele from questioning French about the charges she faces, he said if additional evidence arises, he will reconsider the ruling.
French is still awaiting a preliminary hearing scheduled for Aug. 21 in Magisterial District Court and is currently lodged in the Fayette County Prison without bail.
Shellhammer also remains lodged in the Fayette County Prison without bail.