February 23, 2019

Maxwell pleads guilty to second degree murder


WEST BRANCH — Robert Maxwell pleaded guilty to one count of second degree murder in 34th Circuit Court Feb. 7.

Maxwell was the only suspect in the death of William Joseph Shanks of Alger.

In circuit court Feb. 7, Maxwell recapped the events of the evening that led to the murder of Shanks.

At the time, Maxwell was a parole absconder and had arranged to stay at the house Shanks was living in, he told the court.

Maxwell said he had never met Shanks before, and living at the same residence as Shanks went fine for several days. However, he said they were both heavy drinkers and that night Shanks woke him up and demanded he leave the house. Maxwell said it was extremely cold out, so he was unwilling to leave the house without somewhere else to stay. When he refused, Maxwell said Shanks told him he was going to get his gun. Instead, Maxwell chose to kill Shanks by numerous blows with an axe.

Maxwell has been facing a second-degree murder charge since he was arraigned in circuit court June 15. However, he was also facing a fourth-time habitual offender stipulation. As part of his plea conditions, that was reduced to a second-time status.

On Feb. 4, 2017, police responded to a standoff situation at the Super 8 in West Branch after an anonymous tip alleged Maxwell had been bragging the night before about committing murder.

Police made contact with Maxwell after arriving on the scene, but when he stopped responding, officers entered his room and found he had attempted to take his own life.

At the time of the standoff, deputies searched a residence on the 4700 block of Rifle River Trail, where they found Shanks’ body.

Shanks’ death was later ruled a homicide.

Maxwell is scheduled for sentencing March 7 at 9 a.m.


Please review our community guidelines before posting

Please keep comments on topic and appropriate for all ages. Remember that people of all ages read our website. Those that are not appropriate will be removed. Please read our full community guidelines before posting.

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment

Copyright © 2019, Sunrise Publishing. Powered by: Creative Circle Advertising Solutions, Inc.