Waterloo man pleads guilty to killing girlfriend in Linn County

Hogan accepts second-degree murder conviction; sentencing set May 20

Shaun Hogan (right) answers a question while he sits with his attorneys, Doug Davis (left) and Brian Sissel (center), as he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in Linn County District Court in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, Mar. 1, 2016. Hogan was originally charged with first-degree murder in the death of Crystal Gaffney. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

A Waterloo man pleaded guilty Tuesday to assaulting and killing his 29-year-old girlfriend on July 8, 2014 in Linn County.

Shaun Michael Hogan, 38, originally charged with first-degree murder, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. He admitted during the plea to assaulting and stabbing Crystal Gaffney.

Assistant County Attorney Monica Slaughter said after the hearing that Gaffney died from blunt force trauma. Evidence showed Hogan struck Gaffney in the head with a pipe wrench and stabbed her in the head with a screwdriver. Her body was found at 6:30 a.m. July 9 on the Linn-Buchanan Road, where she was killed, Slaughter confirmed.

Hogan faces up to 50 years in prison, and he must serve 35 years before being eligible for parole. He will also be required to pay victim restitution. Sentencing is set for May 20 in Linn County District Court.

Some of Gaffney’s family members attended the hearing Tuesday but declined to comment on the case.

After Hogan’s initial appearance on July 11, 2014, Gaffney’s uncle, John Maynard, said his niece and Hogan had been in a relationship on and off for a year to a year and a half before her death. Maynard did not attend Tuesday’s hearing.

Slaughter said she and Assistant Linn County Attorney Jordan Schier offered the plea agreement, in part, because this prison term will basically be a life sentence for Hogan. He can’t have the possibility for parole until he’s 73-years-old.

This plea also prevents further trauma for Gaffney’s children. Her two children, both under age 13, saw the attack and would have had to testify at trial. Gaffney’s family supported the plea because they wanted to protect the children from more harm.

Slaughter said she couldn’t talk about what led up to the attack. More details will likely come out during sentencing and she and Schier may be more free to talk about it at that point.

Previous court documents, however, reveal a timeline of sorts for that day:

Gaffney wasn’t officially identified until July 10. After her body was found on July 9, an Amber Alert was issued for her children, one of whom she shared with Hogan. The children later were dropped off at a residence in Waterloo.

Police said the children were unharmed.

Court documents show Hogan’s ex-wife, Tamera McClaren, went to the Waterloo Police Department about 5 p.m. on July 9, 2014 and told investigators she believed Hogan was responsible for Gaffney’s death. McClaren told police Hogan called her about 10 p.m. on July 8, saying he had “done something bad” and that Gaffney wasn’t breathing. He wanted to know what to do with Gaffney’s children.

Hogan then came to McClaren’s Waterloo home with the children in the afternoon of July 9, according to court documents. He said he wanted to take his two sons he had with McClaren to his house for a sleepover.

McClaren said Hogan showed her a news article about Gaffney’s death while he was there. “This is her,” Hogan told McClaren, documents show.

Hogan called McClaren later, saying he needed to bring over his sons because of the “situation” and that he needed to “leave town,” according to court documents. McClaren’s sons were apparently dropped off by Hogan, his mother and another woman.

Another woman told police that her children had spoken with Gaffney’s children on July 9 and they said they saw Hogan stab and kill their mother the night before, according to court documents.

Court documents also showed investigators spoke July 10 with Calvin Jones, who lives in Waterloo, which is where Hogan was located by police. He stayed overnight with Jones on July 9 and the next day asked Jones for a ride out of the state and a change of clothes.