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The Reckoning: Images & Transcript

Marianne Shockley and Marcus Lillard in Arizona

Marianne and Marcus in AZ

Marianne AZ.jpg

Marianne in AZ

Mar Marcus NY.jpg

Marianne and Marcus in NY

Transcript S2, Episode 14 

The Reckoning-

For four years, we have covered the Mother’s Day murder of Marianne Shockley. In the season two finale, we discuss why Marcus Lillard was found not guilty, including DNA evidence not presented at trial and the defense naming Clark Heindel as an alternative suspect. 

In the most personal episode to date, host Penny Dearmin reckons with the challenges of covering true crime in real time, how she would change the way she told the story, when she should have stopped talking to Marcus Lillard, and why her belief in restorative justice is at odds with the justice system.

Through a careful examination of the discord between the public, the police, and the press, we examine who the victims are and how they are treated. We initiate difficult conversations about who gets to control the way people think and feel about crime and what happens when individuals in the justice system don’t have accountability or are held to a different standard than the accused criminals.

In a final takeaway, we break down what it’s like to be the person who lights up a room, and why they are in danger in a world of people who want to take from them. 


Penny  00:00

Hi I'm Penny Dearmin. This is season two blood town on trial


Penny  00:20

Welcome to the season two finale, The Reckoning, where I come to terms with what I knew, when I knew it, even though I couldn't or didn't always share it. Our motto from the start was true crime in real time. There's a reason why most true crime podcasts don't cover stories as they're happening and focus instead on cold cases from long ago. I've come across many pitfalls, and I definitely would have done some things differently. I'll take responsibility for those things and face my own shortcomings as well as what else has been uncovered during the course of covering this case for the last four years. In the last episode, we talked about the reasons why people might find Marcus Lillard guilty. In the first half of this episode, I'm going to discuss the reasons why people might find that Marcus Lillard is not guilty. Or perhaps they believe the case was not proven to find him guilty. In 2016, when I met Marcus, I saw him as many people did.


Speaker 2  01:41

But when Marcus left the house, Marcus was very professional. Like he, he would literally get up and he would dress to a tee. And I mean, you would believe anything he said.


Penny  01:54

Of course, that doesn't mean I knew him as well as some people did.



That's what's so hard about all this for me is that I feel like I know him and I just don't. I don't see Marcus maliciously doing... something went wrong. Something had to have I've known him for that long and I've known. I mean, he obviously didn't happen. What do I think happened? Yeah,


Nikki Simmons  02:19

just your thoughts, knowing him as well as you do. If you had to say this is this is what I believe happened, knowing how he was during sex, knowing how he was when he was high and drunk, and knowing that he wasn't aggressive



 I know, I can say in the pit of my soul that Marcus did not murder this lady. He did not maliciously kill her.


Speaker 2  02:43

marcus is a lot of things. He's, you know, he's a drug addict. He's, you know, a con artist. He's a whore. I've just never I've never known him to be violent. And so when this story came out, I'm like, Whoa, from what I've I think it was a sex thing going wrong. Honestly.


Penny  02:59

Marcus told me how he and Marianne met at the Milledgeville Country Club over Christmas break in 1995. Marcus was a dishwasher and not a quick enough one to be good at it. He had already been arrested for a marijuana distribution and was taking a break from selling drugs not using them though. He was smoking weed using cocaine and had tried acid and mescaline. Marianne was the waitstaff manager, and when she noticed that Marcus was buried in piles and piles of dirty dishes, she offered to jump in and help him. She was beautiful, intelligent, but above all else, she was kind; the next night, they moved him laterally into a waitstaff position. And then he and Marianne got to know each other as friends. She was already dating the man who would become the father of her children. When the break ended, Marcus headed back to Statesboro to finish out the school year. In the summer of 96, Marcus started taking summer classes at Georgia College, and he went back to working at the country club with Marianne. As his distribution case went to court he ended up being sentenced to 90 days. Marcus left college to serve time and they each went on to marry other people, have kids, and live separate lives. Marianne and Marcus reconnected in September of 2017 when Marcus used find nearby friends on Facebook. This is the first time they had seen each other in over 20 years. So they met for lunch and rode his Harley to the Botanical Gardens. In January of 2018, Marianne came up to the hill where Marcus was living, and they had a yoga date with Clark and his then girlfriend with the sunset as a backdrop. They began seeing each other whenever he was in town. Marianne come coming to Milledgeville to see him, going with Marcus to Good Karma for yoga, going downtown to listen to Marcus's son play music. They even went to a funeral together. Marianne visited Marcus in South Carolina, where he was working on a car lot. She took him with her on trips all over the world, Wuhan, China, Ecuador, Arizona, Vancouver, and Brooklyn in 2018. They were scheduled to go back to Ecuador on May 16 2019. They met each other's families, and he even moved in with her for a little while. He says he loved her. Marianne wrote, "it's obvious we're in love. Marcus holds my hand at every opportunity he has." Whatever their own definitions of love were, she seemed to deeply care for him. His actions showed less care. But he commented that they were on the upswing and they were growing closer. He argued that she had given him permission to do whatever when he was out of town. Marcus changed when he met Marianne,


Speaker 2  06:40

the most recent Marcus that I know wanted to chill, and just do drugs, do cocaine and do like weird stuff, like as far as sit in the car and just listen to music or run through the field in the middle of the rain at 3am. Previous Marcus. From before when I knew Marcus and I started hanging out with Marcus, I heard a lot of really bad stuff about him. As far as he's crazy. He does crazy stuff. He's he's just off the wall. But when you actually get to know Marcus, granted, he's a master manipulator. But he didn't manipulate his friends. I'm trying to think of the best word to describe him. Weird. Not completely. I wouldn't say not sane. But he was a different kind of insane it wasn't like an insane I'm gonna go kill someone. It was an insane like, I want to do something really weird and random right now.


Nikki Simmons  07:42

When did Marcus Change?


Speaker 2  07:46

about two years ago when he actually when when he met that lady, but he spoke very highly of her at all times. He was really excited, they would go on trips with the college. He was really excited to do all of those things. And I think that traveling stuff brought out that spirituality, going into different countries trying new things. And he enjoyed it. 


Speaker 2  08:11

The only side of Marcus I ever saw was, the sex or Peace Love. Let's go sit on the beach and like feel mother earth, wind. I mean like I can show you videos. He sent me on Facebook and I'm gonna they're just he really got to a hippie stage and he changed. 


Speaker 2  08:29

What doyou think that was about? I don't know. I think I've never done LSD or taken mushrooms but from what I understand it really changes a person and I've never seen that ugly side of Marcus. And when this came out, it broke my heart because the side outside of the sex thing, the side I do know Marcus, For me, he just he's so loving and like he would be that person that broke up a fight, the side of Marcus that I knew and so when this came out, and I'm like, he's done.


Nikki Simmons  08:55

What do you think happened?


Speaker 2  08:56

I think as a sex thing gone bad. And the thing that gets me is if you kill someone why why did you try and revive their body? You know, I think he was fucked up. 


Nikki Simmons  09:06

Why did he wait? 


Speaker 2  09:07

Cuz he was fucked up and he was scared. He was on probation.


Nikki Simmons  09:10

But if this was a mistake, don't you think that it's much easier to say, hey?


Speaker 2  09:16

But I think he was so scared. And he knew he was on probation. And they'd know he was fucked up. And they were going to violate his probation and he'd go to jail and he do some serious jail time because from what I understand he was on some serious paper, and I think he was just scared. honestly, I think he was terrified.


Penny  09:34

On the night of the incident a lot was made of Marcus being naked in the woods. And those who knew Marcus well said that was not at all out of character for him.


Speaker 2  09:46

Marcus coming out of the woods carrying wood naked, well that's typical Marcus but if they've been trying to revive this body for two hours, so you've been around


Nikki Simmons  09:54

So, you've been around Marcus high, obviously, several times before. Is he so out of it that he has no idea what's going on.


Speaker 2  10:03

I've seen him that way. Yeah. Because he doesn't just do a little. He doesn't know when to stop. And he'll just keep going. I mean, if you continue to do Molly and coke and weed and alcohol, eventually you get to the point where you don't you don't know what the hell you're doing. But I know how Marcus is, like, I've told him to stop drinking. You know, I've told him no, we're not driving, you know? And he's like, No, and get the damn car. You know, I mean, so Marcus does have a little bit of a, it's not violent, but he's very headstrong when he gets like that because he's not himself, but I've never seen him get violent.


Speaker 2  10:35

One night while sitting next to a fire, he gathered firewood. With no shoes on and naked.


Penny  10:45

Marcuscooperated with all law enforcement requests. He even turned over his cell phone and Marianne's cell phone. He answered all of their questions repeatedly, underwent hours and hours and hours of interrogation.


Mary Chandler  11:03

You're being very cooperative, thank you. If you have nothing to hide, most people are pretty cooperative.


Marcus Lillard  11:08

I didn't do it. I didn't do it. I left her alone. I left her alone. I was too fucking dumb, and it wasn't a scared thing. It never crossed my mind to put her in a truck and take her to town. It never crossed my mind.


Penny  11:21

As the defense argued, Marcus did seek help from health care professionals. He called respiratory therapists and EMTs. And when he found her Marcus thought that Marianne was alive and breathing. And the coroner stated that Marianne was alive for a period of time after she was strangled. Now, the Defense says that those signs of strangulation were actually as a result of administering CPR.


Marcus Lillard  11:55

There's part of me thought maybe she had done some kind of weird withdrawal thing that maybe if her and Clark had gotten together, and she goes into some kind of little Shock shell or something, and that's why she won't be unresponsive. But she was dead already. She was already dead.


Penny  12:14

Decide amongst yourselves what you think about that. And now we move into Clark being presented as an alternative suspect. Marcus said that Clark was flirting with Marianne. He claims that she liked it. I'm not sure how he knew that. But that was his statement. He said he quote, gave them some space, and figured she wouldn't do anything she didn't want to. But then they'd both have their own freedom. End quote, Marcus says that he never planned expected or intended for Marianne and Clark to fool around. Despite what a jail house witness claim that Marcus told him.



He used to cry all the time. He cried all the time. He said something about he feel bad about Marianne. He said because It's really kind of like my fault. I had cheated on Marianne a couple of times, and I feel bad man. I just wanted to, If I could just, she could just have sex with somebody else. You know? I feel like I would have felt better, you know, and, he was like, I knew when I got there. I knew I knew when I took her there that he was gonna he was gonna fuck her. Like, oh, my friend like, but I felt like that it like it made me feel better. To get it off my chest because I had cheated on her. She's such a good girl. So, if somebody fuck her, that makes you feel better? Yeah, because you don't understand. Marianne, you know, we used to go on trips. And we used to do all this and I had got on drugs. And plus I made her do some drugs that she hadn't did in years. He said, I didn't. He said, I allowed it to happen. Now what you mean allowed it? Like because I took her there. And, I'm like just because you took her there, that don't mean, that you say you allowed that to happen. And he's like, no, because I knew he was gonna fuck her. You knew he was gonna fucker, that don't make him to the point where you killed her.


Penny  14:22

you know, testimony from a person in jail can be problematic. Even though law enforcement can't promise them anything. They're definitely providing these statements to get something in return. And Marcus says he doesn't recall that conversation at all. All I can figure he was quote, reflecting on possibilities on why my subconscious did certain things and he took something and added a ton to it. End quote, Marcus is saying that his actions may have been unaware to him or a part of his subconscious and he was trying to work out why he would have possibly left Marianne alone and it doesn't mean that's what happened or what he intended to happen. At the same time, Marcus is making statements that Clark was kissing Marianne and whispering sweet nothings in her ear while he was supposed to be doing CPR.


Mary Chandler  15:24

Clark was apparently french kissing Marianne.


Penny  15:30

Marcus claimed that Clark was the one who gave her the tea with potential ayahuasca in it and shook the hydrangea branches over her body. This is during that time that Marcus was still claiming that Clark drugged them with something. Then we discovered in our research that Clark actually lost his license to practice psychology as a result of providing drugs and alcohol to a patient slash former patient who he was aware had struggles with substance use, and then had sex with that former patient that shows a pattern of behavior of Clark being the only one present that night who has a track record of introducing substances and then engaging in sexual acts. This evidence was not introduced at the trial. I mean, the defense would have had to put on witnesses, which they did not they would have to call EH, and MH as witnesses and break down their testimony and their complaint and the entirety of the case and the defense chose not to bring any evidence or call any witnesses. And to be clear, most people in the community saw Clark Heindel as a stellar member of the community and owner of the local yoga studio that provided employment for people in the community, college students, led outreach programs, many people have talked about him providing therapy sessions, or I guess we would say advice because it's not really a therapy session as he doesn't have his license anymore. But that he was someone that they looked up to. And they didn't see any of his behavior as concerning. They didn't witness him engaging in any behavior that he is potentially being seen as participating in on the night of the Mother's Day murder. But other people did say that he flirted with young women. Other people said that he did provide drugs to young women and attempt to have sex with them. His ex girlfriend that testified was significantly younger than he was, even though we cannot say that this is what took place that night. We also cannot make a blanket statement that it's completely outside the realm of possibility that Clark could have given everyone ecstasy and could have potentially made a move on Marianne. We can't say for certain whether that did or did not happen. 


Speaker 7  18:17

He was literally like, just an amazing person. I could get some creepy vibes from him sometimes. 


Nikki Simmons  18:25

Never had anything physical. 


Speaker 7  18:27



Nikki Simmons  18:28

Ever had a sexual relationship with Clark? 


Speaker 7  18:30



Nikki Simmons  18:32

Has he ever tried?


Speaker 7  18:33



Nikki Simmons  18:34

 It sounds funny, but Clark's liked some younger women as well. 


Speaker 7  18:39

I know. I know. 


Penny  18:41

At the onset of the investigation, law enforcement was not able to get into Clark's phone, we don't know if they eventually did. But it's possible that there was further evidence on his phone that could shed more light on what took place that night or any kind of history or motivations before then. Marcus told law enforcement and Clark confirmed this that Clark was in the shallow into the pool. And on that end of the pool is where there is the other patch of blood and signs of a struggle with the matted grass and another bracelet. And then on the path going towards the diving board on that end the pool is a pair of glasses that we believe to be Clark's. Now, the origin of the entire story could be backwards, the beginning the end, and no swimming from one end, no sex in a hot tub. Just a woman who said no and a man or men who refused to take it as definitive.


Marcus Lillard  19:53

So did he shoot himself while I was out there in the back of that car?


Agent Maybin  19:56

Mmmhmmm. He sure did.


Marcus Lillard  19:58

I wonder why I did not hear that?


Penny  20:04

So Marcus is wondering why he didn't hear the shot when he was in the back of a patrol car. And I also wondered if it was possible that law enforcement could be on the scene and not hear gunshots. But if they were on the diving board deep end of the pool, and they're standing right next to the ambulance that's running and it's very loud. It's fully possible that they did not hear the gunshot way back at the house because it shows how far the diving board is from the house. But it also shows how far Clark had gotten away from them without their knowledge. The act of committing suicide can be seen as an admission of guilt. It definitely provides more context and information for Clark as that alternate suspect. Then there are the numerous injuries, abrasions, and contusions all over Clark's body, and they might be signs of a struggle, or they could just be from all of the maneuvering, of picking Marianne up and moving her from place to place to place. And then we come to the DNA evidence and none was introduced at trial. No expert testified no reports were introduced as evidence, we did learn that there was no evidence of sex or sexual assault. Given the analysis of the vaginal swabs they contained only Marianne's DNA. The rest of the DNA results were not introduced. So the oral swabs showed Marcus Lillard's DNA and one other male. However, due to the complexity of the mixture, no conclusive determination can be made and it is also not eligible to be entered into CODIS. The initial findings of the fingernail swabbing show partial DNA from at least two males. Again, due to limited data and complexity of the mixture, the DNA from the fingernail swabbings are not eligible for entry into the DNA database. And no conclusive determination can be made as to the donors of the DNA of the fingernail swabbings. So the fingernail swabs were then sent for amplification using the true allele software. The true allele results show swabbings from the left hand contains a mixture of DNA from at least two individuals. One of those is Marianne Shockley. But due to the complexity of the mixture, no conclusive determination can be made as to the minor DNA contributor. In other words, nothing is known from the DNA taken from the fingernails on the left hand. Again, on the right hand, there was DNA from two individuals. One of those individuals is Marianne Shockley, a DNA match between the swabbing genes from the fingernails from the right hand, and Marcus Lillard is approximately 7 million times less probable than a coincidental match to an unrelated person in the population. Marcus Lillard is excluded from the swabbings. A DNA match between the swabbing from the fingernails from the right hand, and Clark Heindel is approximately 40 million times less probable than a coincidental match to an unrelated person in the population. Clark heindel is excluded from the swabbings from the fingernails of the right hand, there's a 5.36 chance of a false exclusion. No further conclusions can be drawn. It is possible for the true allele casework system to provide additional conclusions from the swabbings from the fingernails of the right hand, upon receipt of adequate known samples from additional persons of interest. The mixture of DNA was not eligible to be entered into CODIS. It would have to be directly matched with a known sample. The technical way it's described is that Marcus Lillard is excluded as a contributor to the DNA under her fingernails, as well as Clark Heindel is excluded as a contributor to the DNA under her fingernails. I mean, that doesn't prove anyone else was there, it doesn't prove anyone's innocence. It definitely is information. And if you recall, there was a discussion about the extra clothes that were found on the steps to the hot tub. So each piece alone probably doesn't really prove anything. But for both sides, it's a circumstantial case. The defense is trying to make sure that Reasonable Doubt is introduced. If you're a person looking at the case, and you're trying to decide for yourself, well, where'd the extra clothes come from? whose DNA is under her fingernails? How come their DNA isn't under her fingernails? So the other things to talk about include that Marcus never caved even after the GBI lied to him and said, you have your DNA around her neck. Marcus still did not do anything but say, I did not do this. I did not do this. Hours of investigation, different investigators, different techniques, he never wavered, in his claim of innocence. The hugest part of this whole entire case is sex. Absolutely. The whole case is about sex. Just because Marcus had a history of choking women during sex does not mean that he choked Marianne during sex, he said he did not choke her. It was not a part of their interactions with each other as she didn't like it. Marcus is pretty adamant that this entire case is because his ex wife and his ex partners just hate him. And they really emphasize how poorly he treated them. He claims that they exaggerated things. He wants to tell different stories about every single account that was presented, especially with witness A. And I mean, I think we've already covered this, but it is possible that he did not call 911 Because he was on probation. And he was afraid because when you're on probation, you're not allowed to drink. Obviously, you're definitely not allowed to do illegal drugs or participate in any illegal acts whatsoever. So it is possible that that is what happened instead of him trying to cover it up. Again, still not reasonable, a reasonable person at a certain point, no matter how afraid you are of going back to jail, you call 911. I don't care who you are. At a certain point, I think everyone who's listened to this case, says it became reckless, sure, at first, you could kind of try to see his perspective and not wanting to go back to jail and thinking he's doing the right thing. He's calling people that have medical training. He's, you know, performing CPR, he's not just doing nothing. He's doing things that he thinks is going to bring her back. And he says that he thinks he hears her coming back and all of these things, and you're responsible for yourself and the decisions that you make, when you're under the influence. If you've taken those drugs, drink that alcohol willingly, then you're accountable for your actions, right? It doesn't mean you intentionally hurt someone. But when harm occurs, you're going to be held accountable, according to a court of law. Marcus's point and his argument is that that's why he did not call 911. But then again, at the same time, he says over and over again, I really just don't know why I didn't call so it's this waffling and going back and forth that really gets the investigators excited about it. They're agitated because they're trying to find the truth and, and Marcus isn't telling them what they want to hear or consistently conveying a story about what happened that night. But I mean at the same time, Marcus is not alone in changing his understanding of the events. Even investigators shifted their focus from one piece of evidence meaning one thing to interpreting it in a different way. Maybin says that they're not going to test the DNA on her Marianne's fingernails because she's been underwater and they won't find anything and then of course, they end up testing the fingernail swabbings to see if there's DNA. Then of course, there's the line of questioning because of the auto reply on Clark's phone and they started investigating whether they left the property or took Marianne off the property I am guessing to maybe get rid of evidence or you know, of course, insinuated that they are going to hide the body. But then it turns out, they didn't leave the property, Clark just got his phone close enough to his car, I'm guessing he probably turned on the car and the phone connected because he was getting that flashlight, that tactical flashlight that they found out by where they were doing CPR. So, at the beginning of an investigation, information is coming fast and furious. And of course, you're trying to capture that as much as you can in real time. And as a result, what you learn later informs your decisions, your line of questioning, the charges that you're even going to make even the charge has changed in this case. So it's just a very interesting thing. We're going to talk about it in a minute. But let's just for a moment right now, hold the thought in our mind that Marcus is being charged because he's changing his story. But law enforcement is also changing and shifting where their investigation is going as new information is presented to them.


Penny  31:12

So, in a sense, it's a good segue to talking about the hypocrisy in this case, or double standard, if you would, rather; the justice system is required to hold an individual, in criminal proceedings, an individual accountable. So the justice system in a criminal proceeding is holding an individual accountable. Right at the same time, no individuals in law enforcement or the entire justice system, are held accountable at the individual level, or the system level, to be honest. So one example of this, as we were just talking is that the prosecution says Marcus is guilty, because he kept changing his story, he kept lying. And lying to law enforcement is a crime. In most of our lives, lying is not a crime. It is a violation. And we all see that violation in a different way. It matters more to some of us than others. And also some lies matter more to us than others. But in the justice system, if you lie, you are guilty, the individual who lies is guilty. And under no circumstances do we ever look at the system that this accused criminal operates within where lying, actually works really well for this individual in their life. And so if someone lies a lot in their personal and professional lives, and gains great benefit and advantages for doing so, it is not going to be unheard of, for them to bring that behavior over to this other system where it's seen as not just a violation but a crime. On the other hand, law enforcement is allowed to lie. If anything, it's an expectation that they're going to lie in order to do their job. Well, they better be lying, in order to trick that accused criminal to confessing. They're not doing their job right if They're not lying. That's what's required. It's just a sign that they're doing a great job. They lie and they get a confession. And the jury in this case, is not having it. Just because the system allows them to lie does not mean the jury thinks it's okay for them to do so. The jury is not okay with the system lying. And then immediately in the same breath saying, but this individual defendant can't lie, because it means they're guilty. It's proof that he's guilty. Look at him, he's a liar. I'm gonna call it the lie hypocrisy. So we'll start there, that Marcus would be motivated as an individual on probation to hide his crimes because it's a crime for him to drink. It's a crime for him to do drugs. So he would definitely hide that he would not come right out and confess that; he later admitted it and realize it's too late at this point. You better put all your cards out on the table, that you were drinking. You were doing drugs. And it wasn't until really the trial when he fully supposedly told the truth about how the drugs and alcohol were consumed that night. But just because he's lying, it's hard to say that that is proof of his guilt.


Penny  35:08

Some people might see what some of the decisions and actions were were mistakes. Now, they're tragic mistakes; they're without intention, without ill will, we're being asked as individuals to view the individuals in the system differently than we are to view the accused criminals. To that point, we are asked to allow for the deputy, who was responsible for Clark Heindel, to supervise him and place him in his patrol car to allow for the fact that he Yes, he did not follow procedure. But he took a phone call. And it was just a mistake that law enforcement is held to a different standard has a different set of rules. And we're supposed to forgive the individuals in that system, because it's very stressful and hard. And I'm not saying it's not. And I'm just asking everyone to really think about the hypocrisy of we're going to charge this one man with the crimes, not saying that they're all crimes that are looked at in a similar light or all mistakes, I'm not saying tha.I definitely think there are crimes here, that individuals need to be held accountable for. But if a deputy's mistake results in a death, which it did. Clark Heindel went in that house, and he killed himself, and he's dead That's a mistake, the state says; it's a mistake. But if Marcus, if this is what happened, engaged in a sexual act that resulted in her death, that's a crime. And he better pay for it. And you have to decide what you think about who has to pay and for what. This is an uncomfortable conversation. And I am not here to point fingers and make judgments. I just want to bring to our awareness why there is so much tension around this case, and we're walking around the big elephant in the room that we may never know what happened that night. We are pointing fingers at people anyway, and we're excusing some people and we're blaming others, who are all kind of engaging in very similar behavior. So if the suspect changes the story, they're lying, it's a crime. If law enforcement changes their narrative, it's a shift in the investigation. then you have the hypocrisy of the 404 B witnesses. And don't worry, I'm gonna call myself out here on some things. I Promise you, I'm not just going to talk about other people. I'm gonna say things about myself too. If any of these women, forget about just one of them, but imagine if all of them came to the police and not just the ones that testified I'm talking about all of the women that the GBI talked to about Marcus Lillard. Let's just imagine they found each other and formed a Facebook group about how Marcus Lillard wronged them, there wouldn't just be women on there that accused Marcus of wronging them or manipulating them, you know, there would be women on there who'd come to his defense, right? So it would be a smattering of a little bit of everything, as far as opinions about how Marcus treated women. But let's just say there's a good core group of them, who went to the police. And they say, He, manipulated us. And of course, the other women would come and they would say, you know, I voluntarily participated in this act. It's something I'm into. I wanted it, I asked for it. But then on the other end of the spectrum, you have women who were actively traumatized by Marcus Lillard's treatment of them. This group of women knows there is zero chance that they could go to law enforcement and say he raped me or was reckless because law enforcement would ask them things like, did you say no? Did you go voluntarily to his camper or to his house? And most of the women would have to say I didn't say no. Now, we know there's one that said, I did say no, and he didn't stop. The police still would not have been likely to bring charges against any man. Not even more Marcus Lillard for any kind of charge whatsoever. The police would say you went voluntarily, they wouldn't ask any questions about whether he obtained verbal consent. Instead, law enforcement would say to the women, you went there voluntarily, and you consumed the drug, or the alcohol or whatever it was that impaired your ability, you took it voluntarily. He didn't forced himself on you. Or you didn't say no, even though some women did say they said no, the police would probably still say it's not sexual assault. It's not sexual violence against you, because you went there willingly. We know that if the testimony of the 404 B witnesses was brought to the police station, that charges would not be brought, let alone would they prosecute, and obtain a conviction for the type of testimony that we heard at the trial. Until we are able to prosecute and obtain convictions for the crimes on which the felony murder is based upon with any kind of regularity, Well, it's probably not going to happen that you're going to get a felony murder conviction. And women are going to continue to have to endure questions about their actions, and their decisions, their behavior and their appearance, and their verbalizations Way more than anyone who's alleged to have committed any act or accused of being a perpetrator. I don't think I've ever heard of an accused sexual perpetrator being asked, What were your intentions? Did you discuss these in advance with this woman? Did you obtain verbal consent? I have never heard it, it could happen. I just am not aware of it. So to me, it's somewhat hypocritical to bring these women they're forced them to be leered at by Marcus Lillard. And this is not a judgment on the prosecution. I get it, I understand that it was the basis of their case. And they had to bring these women in there. And I know that many of the women wanted to come and they wanted to testify. And they wanted to do it for Marianne and for Marianne's family, I understand why the prosecution made the decisions that they did and why the women made the decisions that they did. But it doesn't change the fact that the system broke down long before sexual violence against women progresses to murder. And if you are not able to prosecute it before it gets to murder, it becomes acceptable behavior. People think it's not a crime, or they can get away with it, and they're going to continue to engage in that act. It's just what's going to happen. So the jury could potentially see it that way as well, they could see it as hypocritical that this testimony of these women would not be seen as crimes, if it had not progressed to a murder, Marcus would not be charged with anything unless Marianne had been murdered. And so until that time, when we can see defendants charged and arrested and brought into a court of law, and prosecuted for reckless conduct alone, before it ever progresses to the point that a woman is murdered. charges being brought and sentences imposed won't prevent the escalation of reckless conduct to murder. So what happens when individuals in the justice system no longer have accountability? We've always had it where individuals in law enforcement have no accountability. But now what's starting to happen is the accused criminals, the defendants are also not being held accountable. And so how do we start to have these meaningful conversations in a way that's respectful of both sides? Because I will admit that I have not always been respectful of both sides. Because it is frustrating to me


Penny  44:22

that individuals are accused and convicted of crimes using different rules and laws than the very people who are arresting and convicting them. How do we have a conversation about a system that is so fundamentally and inherently flawed and will never, and was never, actually designed to allow for restorative justice? If I have been less than understanding of the challenges that law enforcement go through and the state goes through in in prosecuting these defendants, it's because we believe in two different things. And it's very clear that punitive justice is not solving the problem of crime. It's discriminatory. It's oppressive. It actually in some cases violates people's rights. So yeah, I get a little pissed off when I see things like that. But that feeling that I have is not going to help us reach resolution or even shed light on it in a way that I think we need to, because we need to start coming up with solutions. We need to find a way to recognize and understand each other's perspective. Nonetheless, there is one system that does seem to be working to provide restorative justice that we heard about during this trial. And that was the drug court. We heard from a couple of the 404 B witnesses who were using drugs during their time with Marcus who went through the drug court process, and they say it absolutely changed and saved their lives. It provided the support and the consequences that they needed at the same time to help them turn their lives around. And I think that's what we all want. We all want for people to turn their lives around. Some of these people said they wouldn't be alive today without the drug court. And so, to me, that is success. That is what we're looking for. It's not what's happening in most courtrooms today. The question remains, what do we do for the person who feels unreachable that regardless of how many opportunities for support and treatment, and intervention and consequences that nothing is remediating, or intervening with their substance use, I do like to talk about this and use it as a model and example of where I see the justice system working for some people, and you know, maybe identifying who those people are, that it works for, and then seeking other solutions for those that doesn't. And more importantly to me, you know, from the very beginning, always and forever, we want to make sure that we recognize that Marianne Shockley is the victim here. And that, first and foremost, it is her story that needs to be front and center, and not lose sight of the fact that you know, she's the victim here. At the same time, it's necessary for me to point out that even regardless of how you feel about the accused Marcus Lillard, that he has parents, and siblings, and a child himself, and that they are victims in this too, and there are so many victims when a crime takes place, but they have been victims for a very long time before it progresses to this point. So you have the impact on the family system and the society. And none of this is resulting in healing; justice is just never going to be possible in this system. And so how do we provide the satisfaction that victim's families desire, that they want this person to pay for what happened to their loved one, which is understandable, but at the same time, how do we recognize that the defendant also has a family that are also impacted by this, and it's hard to make change when the system is designed to protect itself and the individuals within it.


Penny  49:06

I think the only way that people really, truly change is that they discover what their shortcomings are. And they speak those words out loud, and they apologize for them. And they try to make amends for them. And they're committed to recognizing that we are all fallible, that we all make mistakes, and we are all human. If we don't do that, we're just not going to change. And we're going to continue to engage in hurtful, harmful behavior that's not just projected inward, it's almost always projected outward towards other people. And I don't think there's any amount of prison time that can change that. I just don't. So, one other hypocrisy is way, way four years ago way back when we first started, and I asked who are the authors of this murder, and the way that the sheriff's office had that press conference that Monday after Mother's Day. And then when I obtained the report, it was written in a way that made it very easy to interpret as salacious that everyone's naked when they show up on the scene. And at that point at that press conference, law enforcement, sheriff's office, the GBI, they had total control of the narrative, they were the ones giving us information, telling us what and only what they wanted us to hear. And part of that is that they want the community to feel safe, that they're doing their job and they're protecting them, we have this person in custody, they've been arrested. He's the only one that committed these acts, and you don't need to worry about it, we're gonna make him pay. And so then everyone feels safe, and they feel good about the fact that he's under arrest. Of course, it doesn't take away from the tragedy that happened. That's not what I'm saying. But you're trying to control the way that people think and feel about crime. And on the other hand, though, what they're saying is by allowing all of us to read into it, that they were naked, is oh, they were doing unseemly things, oh, they were naked, at a private house, in hot tub, never happens. And they said all kinds of things, but they really didn't say anything at all, but just enough to get you to look away to say, Oh, I don't want to know about that. That's none of my business. That's a private matter. It's the same thing that happens with domestic violence, we do not treat violent crimes the same way when it's between intimate partners, and intimate partner violence. So law enforcement is in charge of the narrative, and nobody else should be a part of it. There's this negative view of the media of the press, that they should just, you know, publish those press releases, broadcast those press conferences, take those sound bites, make everyone feel safe, nothing to see here. It's all wrapped up in a pretty bow, nothing for you to ask any questions about. And so what this means is, is that the media shouldn't have access to certain information. They shouldn't be asking questions. And, and that's just not the world we live in anymore. It's always been the media's job to question the government. When we were getting ready to go, the tornado sirens are going off, and we're being evacuated to the basement. Someone involved with the court made the statement that they would basically not be that upset if members of the media blew away with the tornado, like, get rid of this problem. We all say things in passing, I did not take this person seriously. I did not take it personally at all. We all have parts of our job that are absolute trash that we hate. And apparently when you work at the court, some people think that the media is said trash, okay, fine. That's your opinion, go ahead. But if we don't find a way to work together,


Penny  53:36

people are not going to talk to either one of us. They're not going to talk to law enforcement, because law enforcement is not there to serve and protect. And so how does law enforcement ask the for the public's help and get help when they need it? There's an animosity between police and its citizens or police and the press. I've come to understand that law enforcement just really wanted to do right for Marianne, and they made mistakes. And the prosecution really wanted to get justice for Marianne Shockley's family, and they worked really hard to do that. At the same time, law enforcement can't be the only people who puts information out there, right? Because when they had that press conference, it was all looking terribly bad for Marcus Lillard. And it didn't really say anything about anyone else or any other actions of parties that were present there that night. And that is itself a bias. Look, When you call the jury in, they have to commit to only using the evidence that is presented at trial and not use any evidence or articles or things they know about the case or read about the case to decide guilt or innocence. So again, double standard law enforcement cannot be the only one who's allowed to put information out there. Because that is inherently biased, because of course, they're going to put out the information that makes it look like the person they arrested was guilty, and not any other evidence. So for so many reasons, Marcus Lillard was found not guilty. And I was surprised that he was not found guilty of reckless conduct, I really thought they would have at least convicted him of that, but they did not. However, the judge did revoke his probation. And now it's up to the parole board about how long of a sentence he serves, I don't know that we have been told the entire truth by Marcus Lillard, I don't know if he doesn't know it, or he's just not telling it. But there's so much we don't know or understand in this case. And it's really hard for there to be a reckoning with what took place, if we don't know what happened, and we don't know everyone's part in it. So he's gonna have to decide what his reckoning is. We don't stand in judgment of him, the jury stood in in judgment of him, the judge stood in judgment of him. And then if you believe in God, then God is also going to stand in judgment. And we all have to reckon with what we're supposed to be doing, and admit our part in it. And that's what I'm going to do. And I thought, if I listened to him and supported him in a way that I would do differently now that I would eventually find out the truth. I wasn't trying to get anyone off. I just wanted to know what happened. For that, I imagine it is very prideful to think that you're going to be the person that someone is going to tell the truth to. There was a point where I should have stopped communicating with him sooner. I went into this with what we call radical acceptance. And Brene Brown has this quote that she uses to kind of explain what that means. And she says, in order to empathize with someone's experience, you must be willing to believe them as they see it, and not how you imagine their experience to be. So I went into this with radical acceptance, not trying to see this from my perspective, or how I would imagine it. But from his perspective, I never wanted his words or his side of the story, to be the forefront. But nonetheless, that is absolutely what happened, because almost everything we know, comes from him and his calls and his texts and his messages. And it wasn't just me who did that, it was the prosecution who also did that, because it's all of the information that we have, except for the testimony of the experts. Just because I decided to radically accept what he was telling me and not question that and not push back on that. And trying to find the truth about that. At a certain point, it's not helpful, if that is not what's taking place, and it could actually end up being harmful, and it can end up being damaging. You know, Marcus is not happy with me. He's not happy that I didn't just regurgitate what he told me any more than I just regurgitated what law enforcement said, He's not happy that I told another perspective than his and shared other people's thoughts and feelings about him. And I'm sorry for for any hurt that I've caused or pain that I've caused to anyone involved in the case. Even though I don't think this will be heard, I still will say that. Just because I tell a certain story or side of a story or share a person's perspective doesn't mean I stand in judgment of other people. So I can accept what people are saying to me, I can share another perspective of that. But I still don't have to stand in judgment, either way of who that person is, or what they did, and do my very best to show the totality of anyone's life is not their worst day. I don't want the totality of Marcus Lillard's life to be his worst day. I don't even know if this will end up being his worst day; he gets to go on and he gets to have life. He's going to get out of jail, and he will go on and live his rich and full life. Neither do I want the totality of Marianne Shockley's life to be this which was absolutely her worst day and she will never Have another day again. Marcus Lillard was prosecuted for being promiscuous. He said some really shitty things about people, women in particular; none of us are saints, we've all said shitty things. We've all done bad things. So this isn't about what he did. I'm telling you that he might have been found not guilty because they tried to slut shame him, like they would a victim of sexual assault or violence, as hard as that is to believe. And so if we find him guilty, we're saying it's okay for him to be accused of something because of a sexual act that he participated in, when we really don't even have any proof that that sexual act took place. And I know that telling this story feels like a hurt to Marcus. And I know there are other people who who don't want this story told, and I never set out to intentionally hurt anyone, and I'm sorry for any pain that it may have caused. But I'm going to tell you why I'm telling you this story.


Penny  1:01:13

We talk a lot in true crime about the women who light up a room. And what I don't hear people dissecting or interpreting or trying to explain is why is she described as lighting up a room, and how, when someone lights up a room, they can find themselves as targets of violence, of the most horrific violence. And so what I'm going to talk about now, it goes well beyond the Mother's Day murder, and even the individual parties involved in the case. And I want to talk about, the system in particular I want to talk about is our society, and where we do have an opportunity to think about things in a new way, and maybe even act in a different way. So some people, they see someone who lights up a room, not as someone that they really want to get to know and wow, I really like that person. They're fascinating. I'd love to have someone like that in my life. That's not how they look at them. This person who lights up the room, they've accomplished phenomenal things. They are trailblazers in their field. They're groundbreaking. They're energetic, they're passionate, obviously intelligent, they're vivacious, they're changemakers. If you want something to happen, you want to make it happen. You want to see somebody and make it happen. They're your go to person. They're fun, they're energetic. They're all the things that attracts us to people. And we see, you can literally see the way that they glow, that they shine a light that they're brighter than the rest of us, they light up a room. And they have a pure heart. They have a pure, pure heart. And these individuals who are not like everyone else, they attract other people who are not like everyone else. But these individuals who are targeting those with that light, they have the opposite of a pure heart, their motivation of getting involved with those who light up the room, is to take that light and use it for themselves for their own good. And they get off on it. They enjoy being able to get this person, this powerful, amazing person to do things for them. And then when they no longer can or no longer want to use that person, they put that light out. And so if you're that person that lights up the room, and you know who you are, this can feel like such an alienating experience. You don't feel like other people, you're set apart. People don't really see you for who you are. They don't really understand you. They don't really know you. And so sometimes the pure of heart can open themselves up to this type of individual who has targeted her. They are not just targeting you. They're very good at making sure you feel seen. And this person understands you like no one else. No one's ever understood you. No one's ever known you. No one's ever valued you for the things that make you uniquely you. In fact those things that they say they love about you are the very things that other people don't really appreciate in you. And they actually use against you, you know those kinds of phrases, you're too much, you have too many opinions, you're too loud, too passionate, you want too much, you expect too much. And I never want those that are pure of heart to lose that pure heart. But I do want you to learn to guard it. And to be able to recognize that person who has targeted you before it's too late. You've heard that saying, Only the good die young. And it really feels that way. We often lose people that everyone else loves, and they genuinely mourn. And so, with this project, I have tried to figure out why I constantly find myself in situations where I definitely could have been the person who died. And what I've come to realize is that I'm just not that good. I'm just not that pure of heart. And I'm okay with that. And like I said, I don't want to hurt anybody. It's not my intention. I think we hurt people, whether we intend to do it or not. But my day of others coming anywhere near me, trying to hurt me. I release them to their highest good. You know, those people in your life, they're your biggest regret. But they've given you your biggest lesson, I have my own collection of these people. And for the purposes of this, and what I'm trying to say and who I'm trying to reach here, and you know who you are, and you have someone in your life, who you're making excuses for, that you're saying, Oh, they're not that bad, you're exaggerating, they really love me, they didn't mean it. They're just tired. They're just stressed out, and your friends do not like this person. And your family does not like this person. And you should start fucking paying attention to that. Because there is truth in everything. I don't know about anybody else. I'm accountable for me at the end of my life, and only me. And I refuse to participate in my own abuse anymore. And I want every one and I mean, everyone set free from whatever prison you are in, if it is the one with actual bars in your cell, or one you've created in your own mind. Because until we are all free, and I do mean all of us, until we are all healed of our trauma. All we will ever do is keep passing it around like the chicken pox when we were kids. We can change ourselves as individuals. And hopefully this system will be open to change around us. And even though we cannot get back the people that we have already lost that were so good. We can stop losing pieces of ourselves and giving away our whole selves to other people today. Yes, people should not abuse us. They're going to anyway. If you take nothing else away from this podcast, it's this: we cannot make ourselves available for own abuse. We must not participate in our own abuse, and no system, and no individual can change that but us.


Penny  1:09:27

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