New Year’s Eve 1993, two business partners got into a fist fight over the financial dealings of the business. One business partner, Robert Henry filed a lawsuit against the other business partner, Larry Shandola. Henry sued Shandola for medical expenses and dental work that was necessary after the fight. After Shandola pleaded guilty to an assault charge, the court issued a summary judgment against Shandola, ordering him to pay Henry for the damages. That was January 1, 1995.
On September 11, 1995, 33 year old businessman, Robert Henry was in his parked car at the electronics company where he worked when someone wearing a ski mask and carrying a shotgun approached the car. Witnesses in the parking lot told police that the masked man shot out the windshield of Henry’s car. You can imagine the terror and panic that overwhelmed Henry as the man then aimed his shotgun directly at Henry’s face and pulled the trigger.
Witnesses reported that after the masked man shot Henry, he ran to a parked black motorcycle and sped off. When they went to check on Henry, he was dead from the shotgun blast to his face.
Over the next 5 years, Robert Henry’s widow Paula, did everything possible to keep the investigation into her husband’s murder alive. She raised $50,000 to help pay for the investigation. Finally, in January of 2001, police arrested Larry Shandola for Robert’s murder. Shandola was the lead suspect from the beginning, but it took police five years to gather enough evidence to arrest him.
After his arrest, Paula said that Shandola had repeatedly stalked her over the past five years since Robert’s murder. She feared for her life and believed that he wanted to kill her also.
In September 2001, Shandola was convicted of the first degree murder of Robert Henry and sentenced to 31 years and 8 months in prison. Personally I would have given him the death sentence, since Washington state still has the death penalty and the crime took place in Tacoma.
Paula Henry has spent the last 12 years since Shandola’s conviction, trying to deal with the brutal murder of her husband and put her life back together. It has not been easy for her as you can imagine.
In 2011, Shandola filed an application requesting that he be allowed to serve the remainder of his sentence in Canada so that he could be closer to his family. When Paula heard about the request, she sent a letter to the authorities stating that she was against the idea of allowing Shandola to be moved to a Canadian prison. In her letter, she referred to Shandola as a ‘skilled sociopath’ and that she knew if he had a chance that he would kill her.
Earlier this year, Paula answers a knock on the door, only to find out that she was being served papers naming her in a lawsuit filed by Shandola. He is suing her for $100,000 for defaming his character with the statements she wrote in the letter to corrections officials. The shock of being sued by her husband’s murderer brought all of the raw emotions back to the surface and they overwhelmed Paula. She couldn’t stop crying and shaking for several days.
Paula’s attorney, John Landenburg says the case is frivolous and should not have been allowed to be filed in the first place. He says that the system is concerned about the rights of the criminals and that it’s often the rights of the victims that are forgotten or trampled on. He is working with lawmakers in the state of Washington to enact laws to prevent similar lawsuits in the future. However, Landenburg says that in this case, Shandola wins regardless because even if the suit is dismissed, which he is pushing for, that it’s still going to cost Paula a chunk of money for legal fees to defend herself.
I’ve had people tell me that if I were a judge, I would be worse than the infamous hanging judge Roy Bean. I have no mercy on convicted criminals. In my opinion, they forfeit most of their rights once they are convicted and sentenced to prison. Our system coddles prisoners in many ways while the victims or family of their victims get little to no help from anyone. Larry Shandola was convicted of first degree murder which should have carried either the death sentence (my preference) or life in prison without the chance of parole.
Paula Henry has had to deal with her husband’s murder without any help from the city, county or state, while her husband’s murderer is provided for, taken care of and protected by a number of questionable laws. Shandola should not be allowed to file a lawsuit against his victim’s widow and if anything, it should be deemed as harassment. He should face charges for harassing and intimidation and have his prison sentence lengthened. Shandola, now 62 years of age, should never see the outside of a prison cell for the remainder of his life, because when he decided to take the life of another person, he forfeited his right to live as a free man for the rest of his life.