‘Robbed by the state’: Alabama county auctions off slain woman’s wedding ring — and buyer won’t sell it back to family
Family photo

The family of an Alabama woman slain in an unsolved homicide feels victimized again after county authorities auctioned off her wedding ring and the buyer refuses to sell it back to them.

Shemethia Coteat Stanton was gunned down Feb. 14, 2020, in an ambush outside her Hoover apartment, and police say they've got a strong suspect in the case but not enough evidence to make an arrest, but family members were hopeful that might change after her personal items were returned missing her wedding ring and Apple watch, reported AL.com.

"I was thinking this would be a break in the case," said her longtime husband Phillip Stanton. "I'm calling the detectives, asking can we check pawn shops?"

But Stanton, who was legally divorced from his wife at the time but remained close with her and their children, soon learned the two missing items had been auctioned off Dec. 28, 2020, in an unclaimed property auction.

"She was murdered by the streets and robbed by the state," Stanton said. "It's frustrating."

Chief Deputy Coroner Bill Yates said he waited 10 months, much longer than the 30 days required under law, for the family to claim her items and attempted to reach son Phillip Stanton Jr., who was designated next of kin.

"We attempted to contact the only next of kin we knew of, (the victim's son), after autopsy to notify him of the personal property and weren't able to get him,'' Yates said.

The elder Stanton, who police have long ruled out as a suspect, said the ring was sold to a man in Missouri who refuses to sell it back to him, even after he offered more than the buyer paid.

"She never stopped wearing the wedding ring,'' Stanton said. "We were together since high school – 30-something years – and married for 18. We had three kids together."