Monday, December 11, 2017
News Roundup

Father gets more time to hire attorney in slaying of 13-year-old Janessa Shannon

TAMPA — In the courtroom, prosecutors assembled their detectives and forensic experts, ready to argue that the man they say killed his 13-year-old daughter is too dangerous to be allowed out of jail.

But as the Wednesday morning court hearing began, Nahshon Shannon raised his shackled hands.

His public defender wasn't listening to him, he complained to a judge. He wanted more time to look for a new lawyer.

"My issue is I have some questions I want him to ask and he outright refused," Shannon said of his lawyer, Charles Traina. "From the beginning, we haven't had the best working relationship."

Shannon, 37, who faces charges of first-degree felony murder and aggravated child abuse in the death of his daughter, Janessa, spoke of possibly representing himself.

Seated at a defense table, he had thumbed through some case documents. He said he needed more time to look at the evidence against him.

County Judge Margaret Taylor said she was hesitant to let him act as his own attorney. She cautioned him against saying anything that might incriminate himself. But she said she was willing to give him more time to look for a private lawyer.

She rescheduled the hearing for Oct. 30.

Shannon sat poised, his back straight. He never glanced at the courtroom spectators. Among them was Janessa's mother, Michelle Mosley.

"He couldn't even look at me," Mosley said afterward. "I felt like, 'you did this to my daughter and yet you can't even look at me.'

"He knew that I was there. That's what matters to me."

Shannon was arrested last week, capping a three-month investigation into his daughter's death. He had reported Janessa missing July 3, two days after he picked her up at her mother's Bradenton home and brought her back to his house in Riverview.

PREVIOUS STORY: Father charged in 13-year-old Janessa Shannon's death

Shannon claimed the girl had run away. But nine days after she vanished, a hiker found the 13-year-old's body near a shallow grave in the rugged, isolated Triple Creek Nature Preserve in southeast Hillsborough County.

A medical examiner concluded Janessa died from "homicidal violence including blunt impact injuries and possible strangulation," according to a court document. The sheriff's investigation turned up forensic evidence, including soil samples from Shannon's car which matched dirt from the preserve. Officials said they believe he killed his daughter during an argument.

Outside the courthouse, Mosley said Shannon was a strict father. But she said she never imagined he would have hurt her.

"She loved her dad," she said. "That's what makes it so hard."

Contact Dan Sullivan at [email protected] or (813) 226-3386. Follow @TimesDan.

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