MONTICELLO — After 36 years in the White County Prosecutor’s Office — the last 28 as the chief law enforcement officer — Bob Guy plans to step aside at the end of his term.
That won’t be for another year; Dec. 31, 2022, will be his official last day on the calendar.
“I’m finishing my 35th year; I’ll have 36 at the end of my term. I’ve loved every minute of it but there comes a time for everything to a conclusion,” he said. “I’ve thought out it for some time trying to decide when that was going to be right for me.”
Guy said he spoke with a retired prosecutor from southern Indiana about how he knew when it was time to step down.
“He said, ‘You’ll know. You’ll know when it’s time,’” Guy said. “There are a lot of changes in life. I have grandchildren; I have another one on the way in February. There are things I want to do other than to come to this office every day. I’ve enjoyed it but there are other things in life. I’ll be 63½ at the end of the term … it’s just time.”
Guy said he’s had several cases that have attracted media attention, but he has treated all cases as if they were the most important.
“I try to look at every case as important because it’s important to the defendant and, in a situation where there is a victim, it’s an important case to them,” he said. “Sometimes it may not hit the radar of the newspaper or the media, but it’s important to the victim and the defendant.”
Guy said it’s a prosecutor’s job to ensure justice is served, not to convict every person that enters the criminal justice system.
But he noted a couple of cases that have stayed with him over the years. The first, Guy said, was the case of Elizabeth Shanklin from the early 2000s.
Shanklin pleaded guilty to suffocating her 2-year-old grandson and was sentenced to 40 years in prison. While in prison, Shanklin confessed to smothering her two young sons in 1974
“We looked into a case deep because family members had indicated that she had taken the life of her own two children … 20-plus years earlier,” Guy said. “It was interesting from a prosecutorial, investigative perspective but sad by the same token, digging up the old evidence. We were able to find a lot of the evidence, convene a grand jury and indicted her on all three murders and convicted her on all three counts. She ended up dying in prison.”
The other case is the only one to which he refers by the victim’s name.
“The one this community is most familiar with and one that is as close to me as any of them, and that the Judy Claypool murder,” she said.
Claypool, 67, was a retired schoolteacher who was stabbed to death in 2008 by Jason Forrest after he broke into Claypool’s home near Lake Shafer looking for keys to steal her car. In a taped confession to police, Forrest said he killed Claypool because he feared she recognized him.
Forrest was sentenced to 76 years in prison.
“I went to the house where the family was gathered and boldly — and probably foolishly at the time — said that we would find the person who did it, charge them and convict them,” Guy said. “I remember it like it was yesterday. I later walked out and got into my car and thought, ‘What in the world have I just done?’ I don’t have any idea that I’m going to do all of that, but I made it my mission. With the good Lord’s help and good law enforcement work, we accomplished that goal.”
While Guy plans to step aside and spent more time with family, he does have a preference for who should take over for him as White County’s prosecutor.
His chief deputy prosecutor, Stacy Diener, a Republican, and Monticello attorney Mark Delgado, also a Republican, plan to run for the seat next year.
“I know both very well. I’ve been blessed with having three former elected (prosecutors) be my chief and it’s important to have that experience in the prosecutor’s office,” Guy said. “Stacy will be the one I will be supporting and endorsing. I think she is the right person to follow me when I step aside and be the next prosecutor of White County. She’s smart. She’s done it before and I think she will be very successful if given the opportunity.”
Guy said having compassion and the ability to listen are key to being a prosecutor.
“I know how important it is to them to have their cases resolved because I see them and I interact with them. I recognize that need for closure,” he said. “One of the most important things when you meet with a family … is you let them know that you care and that you’ll do your best. There are no guarantees of any outcome. Sometimes the outcome they want is not plausible — and you have to be realistic and that’s not always easy to convey to a family member of a victim.”
Guy said prosecutors also should have the ability to show some compassion to the defendant.
“Not always. There are certain crimes where you don’t have any compassion at all for that person,” he said. “There are times when, although there has to be a punishment dealt out, you also want that sentence to have a rehabilitation component. When that sentence is over, that person will come back to live in the community. I want them to truly be rehabilitated when they are out on the street without any supervision from the Department of Corrections or probation department.
“You have to be able to balance a sentence and a sentence recommendation knowing that that person is going to be back in our community.”
Guy feels he’s done all he can as a prosecutor to make White County as safe as it can be.
“I wanted what I had when I grew up and that was a safe community to be raised in, and then raise my family in,” he said. “I have taken pride in, along with the law enforcement community, the fact that we made Monticello and White County a safe place to live, go to school, go to our churches and to live.”