When longtime Dalton resident John Patrick Hade died of blunt force trauma to the head sometime in the summer of 2007, it came from a “very strong, angry, determined individual,” said the district attorney of the Appalachian Judicial Circuit.
“Shawn Ivey was in a very violent rage,” said DA Joe Hendricks in Gilmer County Superior Court on Monday, noting Ivey was in court pleading guilty “to the taking of another man’s life.”
But Ivey, 36, who pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was given a 20-year sentence, with 12 years in prison, by Judge Brenda Weaver at the end of an all-day sentencing hearing, testified that his wife, Loretta Hade Ivey, 48, of Dalton, killed John Hade. She was married to Hade at one time.
Shawn Ivey also must pay court fees and reimburse the district attorney’s and public defender’s offices for expenses they incurred, including the DA’s office flying a man from Hawaii to testify in earlier court proceedings.
Loretta Ivey must face the same counts Shawn Ivey was initially indicted for — malice murder, aggravated assault, concealing a death and abandonment of a body. She is scheduled to appear in court in February.
Hade’s remains were discovered on the western side of Fort Mountain near the Murray-Gilmer county line in September 2010.
Part of the plea deal Shawn Ivey made with the district attorney’s office in lieu of going to trial — and possibly getting a life sentence if found guilty — was that he would get a sentencing hearing where his attorney, Circuit Public Defender Michael Parham, could present “mitigation evidence” in an attempt to lessen his sentence for voluntary manslaughter.
Former jailmates testify
The district attorney’s office called two of Shawn Ivey’s former jailmates to the stand, Dean Steinbring and Harley Hubbard.
Steinbring told the court Ivey didn’t talk much at first, but began crying after a church group came in to hold a service.
“I asked him if he was all right and he said, ‘I’ve done some awful things,’” Steinbring testified. “I asked him if he wanted to talk and he said he had beat somebody to death with a rock ... (Ivey) referred to (Hade) as a friend but said he snapped and started beating on him ... he said he placed the body on Fort Mountain.”
Steinbring said Ivey threatened him after he reported the conversation to a jail officer and “put his thumb across his throat” in a slashing manner.
Hubbard said Ivey “hinted around that he needed (Hade) out of the way” and “said he used a hammer” to attack Hade. He added Ivey said, “We got rid of the body,” referring to his wife, whose name he couldn’t remember.
Parham asked Steinbring why he listened to Ivey when that should have been a church member’s role, and he replied, “I just asked him if he needed to talk.”
Hendricks then read Ivey’s criminal history to the court, including four felonies for burglaries, possession of meth and cruelty to a child (slapping Loretta Ivey’s daughter), as well as misdemeanors of several moving violations incurred during a car chase with authorities.
A former girlfriend, Chris Brooks, described Ivey as a “binge drinker.” Star Bridges, an abuse counselor where Ivey went to rehab, testified he had been “compliant” during the program and celebrated a year of sobriety recently.
Jerry Guinn, who lived with Loretta Ivey from the beginning of 2009 until the time she was arrested in May of this year, testified on Shawn Ivey’s behalf and said Loretta Ivey was “violent when she was drinking” and had struck him in the forehead with an ashtray and also knocked a tooth loose on two occasions.
Guinn said Loretta Ivey had him throw a large rock into the Coosawattee River, but she “didn’t tell me anything about the rock, except that it came out of the river.” He added that the rock was different than other rocks in a garden at the home where Loretta Ivey lived outside Ellijay, like it “didn’t belong there.”
Special agent testifies
Special Agent Dustin Hamby with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation appeared for the prosecution, but was first questioned by Parham.
“Loretta Ivey told you she was there when the murder occurred and that she was not there, both, didn’t she?” Parham asked.
“Yes,” Hamby replied, then later said Loretta Ivey told him she was in the bathroom when Shawn Ivey struck Hade.
Hamby told Parham he interviewed Loretta Ivey first and she eventually led investigators to where Hade’s remains were found.
“Loretta said Shawn murdered John Hade, (that she) saw him standing there with a rock,” Hamby testified. “She said Shawn hit him on the top of the head with the rock, and that they took the body to the county line to what people called ‘the kudzu patch.’”
Hamby said when Hade’s remains were discovered there was a crack in his skull that was eventually determined to be “blunt force trauma” by the state crime lab.
Hamby said when he interviewed Shawn Ivey in Rabun County, Ivey said he “possibly could have murdered John Hade.”
“He said he was a severe alcoholic and doesn’t remember (what happened),” Hamby said.
Hendricks asked Hamby if both defendants were drinking heavily that night and Hamby replied they were.
Shawn Ivey takes stand
When Parham questioned Shawn Ivey about the evening of Hade’s death, Ivey testified that he and Loretta had gone to a store and bought beer and cigarettes after he got off work, and that he “passed out” from drinking around 8:30 or 9 p.m.
“I woke up needing to use the bathroom really bad,” he said. “I then went to the fridge and drank a beer ... and went outside ... a few feet and stumbled over John Hade, face down in the dirt. I kicked him and said, ‘Get up,’ and noticed Loretta was crying. I felt for his pulse and said, ‘He’s dead,’ and Loretta said, ‘Damn right he’s dead — I killed him.’”
Shawn Ivey said he told Loretta “people will come looking for him (Hade),” and he said she replied, “No one will come looking for him except my sister.” Later testimony revealed Hade was staying with her sister.
Parham asked Shawn Ivey who decided to dispose of the body, and he said it was “by mutual agreement.”
“I had no animosity whatsoever toward John Hade — I still don’t understand why she killed him,” he said.
Shawn Ivey said after they disposed of Hade’s body — by rolling him down an embankment off the side of the highway on Fort Mountain — they returned to the house where Loretta “picked up all his stuff” and threw it in back of a pickup truck at the home, where it was taken to the dump with a load of garbage the next day.
Ivey said they married because Loretta told him if they got married they wouldn’t have to testify against one another. They also agreed to say Hade “walked off to Tennessee” if anyone asked where he was.
When Parham asked Ivey about the rock in question, Ivey replied, “I don’t even know where a rock came into the equation,” and said he later found a frying pan in the yard that had rust on it that made him “wonder.”
“Did you ask her if she did it?” Parham queried Ivey.
“I knew she did it — I didn’t have to ask,” Ivey replied. “Believe it or not, I was relieved when I was arrested because I got away from her.”
He then denied saying to Steinbring and Hubbard that he killed Hade with a rock, and told Hendricks, “When (Loretta) said nobody will miss him, something in my head clicked.”
Parham said Shawn Ivey lied to investigators initially to protect his wife, believing they had an agreement to protect each other if Hade’s death came to light.
Parham showed a PowerPoint presentation of 13 people — including Loretta Ivey’s daughter, her son and his father, and numerous other men in her life — in an attempt to show “the string of people affected by Loretta Ivey.”
“Loretta brings people into her life and uses them against each other to get what she wants — the linchpin of the case is Loretta,” he said in summation before sentencing, and used court testimony in previous cases to show where both her son and daughter recanted allegations of child molestation that he said their mother had put them up to against some of the men in her life.
Hendricks admitted the true facts as to what happened are “muddled and confused.”
But he pointed out Shawn Ivey “admitted he entered into a conspiracy to conceal facts ... and cover up a murder.”
“He gave his version of what happened today when he lied before,” he said of Ivey’s testimony. “This is a decision (for pleading guilty of voluntary manslaughter) that Shawn Ivey has made. If you tell multiple people you killed somebody, you’re going to be a prime suspect ... the cold, hard evidence shows Shawn Ivey perpetrated this crime ... his testimony at this point is just not persuasive.”
Further, Hendricks said, Shawn Ivey “showed a callous disregard for the dignity of human life” in throwing Hade’s body into a kudzu patch, and “sufficient mercy” had already been granted him through the plea bargain.
Weaver said Loretta Ivey was “just as involved” as Shawn Ivey, and although the court didn’t know who actually hit Hade, “Loretta is just as capable mentally and physically” of the crime.
“There’s really no motive as to why this happened,” she said, other than mentioning alcohol and possibly drugs.
After the sentencing, Parham said the plea was “(Shawn’s) choice.”
“He would have been facing a life sentence (if convicted of a jury for murder),” said Parham. “It was his decision. If you ask him, I think he may say ‘I did the right thing’ (in pleading down).”
Ed Hade of Dalton, John Hade’s brother, was in California on a business trip during the sentencing hearing, but emailed the DA’s office a victim’s statement at its request to be read into the court record.
“The range of emotions is simply overwhelming. The sadness. The anger. The sense of loss,” he wrote of “losing my brother in such a painful way.”
Ed Hade said his family is small and he only has a sister and two sons left.
“Shawn Ivey has brutally taken a large part of our family away from us,” he wrote. “My children have lost the only uncle they have known ... I want Shawn Ivey dead. Since that is not an option, I would like to see his life made as miserable as possible, and for as long as possible ...
“I beg this court to put the stone of justice forcefully to the back of his head.”