A man accused of killing his wife and claiming she died by suicide last year pleaded guilty on Thursday to second-degree murder.
Randall Todd Chapman, 48, entered the plea before Kanawha Circuit Judge Dan Greear more than a year after the death of his wife, Shirlene Chapman, at their home along Kennedy Drive in Big Chimney.
Chapman only spoke to answer questions from Greear as he entered his plea.
Chapman has been incarcerated at South Central Regional Jail since Kanawha County sheriff’s deputies arrested him. He faces between 10 and 40 years in prison when he’s sentenced on Dec. 6.
Per the terms of Chapman’s plea deal, he did not say on court record what his role was in his wife’s death.
Assistant Kanawha Prosecuting Attorney Debra Rusnak said Chapman called 911 at 2:07 a.m. on Sept. 16, 2017 and reported his wife had fatally shot herself.
The deputies who responded to the scene reported they found Shirlene Chapman lying in the living room with a handgun nearby.
If the case had gone to trial, Rusnak said she would have presented evidence that showed Randall Chapman shot his wife and placed the handgun next to her to make it appear she died by suicide.
Rusnak said there were no visitors at the Chapmans’ home the night Shirlene Chapman died, and the couple had argued about her spending the bulk of their saved retirement funds. A gunshot residue test performed on Randall Chapman indicated residue on the cuffs of the sweatshirt he was wearing at the time, Rusnak said.
The medical examiner’s report showed Shirlene Chapman was shot once in her back and determined the cause of her death was homicide, Rusnak said.