Opening statements in the murder trial for the man accused of killing and dismembering Summer Shipp in 2004 are scheduled to take place Wednesday morning after jury selection continued through Tuesday afternoon in Division 17 at the Eastern Jackson County Courthouse in Independence.
Jury selection finished shortly before 5 p.m. Tuesday. Opening statements are scheduled for 9 a.m. Wednesday.
Jeffrey Sauerbry, 43, is accused of first-degree murder in the death of the 55-year-old Shipp, who disappeared in December 2004 from a northwest Independence neighborhood where she was conducting work as a door-to-door market researcher.
Fishermen found her remains three years later in October 2007 in the Little Blue River near Missouri 78 and Missouri 7.
Sauerbry, formerly of Independence, already is in prison for an unrelated case. He was convicted of first-degree murder in 2012 for the stabbing death 14 years earlier of Independence man William Kellett, a security guard at a local car dealership where both men worked.
After that conviction, prosecutors unsealed the first-degree murder charge in the Shipp case. Sauerbry lived with his mother in the neighborhood where Shipp went missing and had long been considered a person of interest in the case.
According to court documents, Sauerbry confessed to an acquaintance that he killed Shipp because he thought she was a government spy. During the confession, he went into detail about how he killed Shipp and disposed of her body.
Sauerbry's lawyer, John Picerno, said the case against his client his highly circumstantial and lacks physical evidence that connects Sauerbry to the crime and Shipp and that the key witness is not credible.
“We are definitely ready to try the case,” Picerno said. “We're looking forward to being able to confront the state's witness. We believe we can show the jury he can't be trusted.”