July 1, 2010
Jefferson City, Mo. - Attorney General Chris Koster today announced that Kevin Zoellner, an Assistant Attorney General in his Public Safety Division, has received national recognition as recipient of the Board of Directors Trial Award for Outstanding Advocacy in Capital Cases 2009-2010 presented by the Association of Government Attorneys in Capital Litigation.
Koster said the award recognizes Zoellner's outstanding work trying an extremely high-profile murder case involving the assassination of Sgt. Carl Dewayne Graham, Jr., of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Sgt. Graham was shot and killed in 2005 in front of his home near Van Buren, a town in rural southern Missouri. Sgt. Graham had just completed his shift and was preparing to visit his four-year-old son. As he stepped from his patrol car in his driveway, he was murdered. Lance Shockley was charged with the murder nine days later after an extensive investigation by the Missouri Highway Patrol. Sgt. Graham had been investigating Shockley for leaving the scene of a fatal accident involving the death of Shockley's friend; this investigation provided the motive for Shockley to lie in wait at the trooper's residence, first shooting him in the back with a high-powered rifle and then firing two shotgun blasts into the dying patrolman.
"I can think of no one more deserving of this great honor than Kevin Zoellner," Koster said. "All of us who are members of the law enforcement family feel the death of Sgt. Graham at a personal level. Kevin Zoellner is a truly gifted attorney who used his skills, energy, and diligence to see that justice was done. It is because of Kevin that Lance Shockley is now on death row, and I am incredibly proud to work with a man of such integrity, compassion, and competence as Kevin Zoellner."
Zoellner will formally receive the award on August 31 during the "Making a Difference" presentation at the Annual Summer Conference of the Association of Government Attorneys in Capital Litigation.