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Prosecutors seek death penalty in murder of Elwood police officer

ANDERSON, Ind. (WISH) — The Madison County Prosecutor’s Office said Wednesday it will seek the death penalty against the man accused of killing Elwood police officer Noah Shahnavaz.

Carl Roy Webb Boards II, 42, of Anderson, is charged with murder and several other crimes in connection to Shahnavaz’s death.

On Wednesday, the prosecutor’s office filed a Request for Death Sentence in the case against Boards by alleging, pursuant to Indiana Code, that Shahnavaz was “a law enforcement officer and was acting in the course of his duty,” Chief Deputy Prosecutor Andrew C. Hanna said in a statement.

Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings said in a Wednesday news conference, “The death sentence is the law in the state of Indiana, and, if it is going to be pursued, this is the kind of case where it needs to be pursued.”

Cummings says he will not accept a plea deal. He plans to take the case to a jury. 

Investigators say Boards got out of his car during a traffic stop on July 31 and fired at least 36 rounds from a high-powered rifle at Shahnavaz, fatally wounding him. Boards was arrested a short time later after a police chase.

Investigators say Boards fired 36 rounds from a high-powered rifle and more than 30 rounds hit Shahnavaz. Another factor that could lead to the death penalty is Boards’ past criminal history.

“This person should not have been out. We should have penalties that protects society from people like this, and we don’t,” Cummings said.

The prosecutor says a death penalty case, from start to finish including appeals, could take from 15-20 years.

The Shahnavaz family told prosecutor they want to change how death penalty cases are handled. “And they are hoping and I’m hoping these kinds of attacks on police officers will lead to meaningful change in the legislature for more serious criminal penalties for violent criminal offenders,” Cummings said.

Death penalty cases are expensive. Cummings told I-Team 8 this case could cost from $400,000-$500, 000, and he says other elected officials in Madison County supported his decision to seek the death penalty.  

“Our elected officials in this community, I think, would be more upset if we didn’t pursue a cases like this. We don’t make the decision for that reason. We do it based upon the facts of the case and the wishes of the family have some input. I’m not willing to put them through a 20-year process if they are not willing to do it. Some say, ‘I want closure.’ ‘I want to move on.’ This family didn’t,” Cummings said. 

The father of the slain Elwood Police Department officer came to the podium during a Wednesday news conference with his son’s sunglasses, a picture and a heavy heart.

Matt Shahnavaz held as the sunglasses as he talked about his son, Noah Shahnavaz. “So, if you saw Noah, you knew a pair of shades were close by.”

Matt said the sunglasses are a constant reminder. “Noah is my first-born son. My family misses Noah more than words can express.” 

“We want everyone to remember Noah,” Matt said. 

The Elwood Police Department announced Tuesday that it will purchase bullet-resistant windshields for its police vehicles.

History of death penalty in Indiana

Indiana currently has eight men its Death Row. Their time on death row spans anywhere from 7-28 years. The last execution in an Indiana prison was in December 2009, nearly 13 years ago.

At least four death penalty trials are pending in Indiana. Those trials include the man accused of murdering Breann Leath, an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer, in April 2020. His trial is set to begin in September 2023.