The silver bullet technique “is a system of stripping you of your property, your right to own a gun, and your freedom. It can put you out of your own home, with no access to your own money, your children, or your possessions. It can cause you unlimited legal expenses. It can turn your friends and family against you,” according to the website the Family Rights Association.
Shelton’s ex-wife’s divorce lawyer is Sarah Stevens, who doubles as a North Carolina state representative.
“Boy am I gonna have fun playing with you,” Stevens told Shelton outside court the first day he met her in the summer 2012. Stevens initially denied saying this, but Shelton produced an audio recording of her and she had no further comment.
“It’s going to go either one or two ways. First, it’s going to go with a restraining order protecting your wife and your children,” Shelton then remembers Stevens saying later that same day. “Or you can agree to a $5,000 property settlement and walk out of here today without a restraining order and some supervised visits with your kids.”
“Let me get this straight, I’m dangerous but I’m not dangerous with $5,000 in my pocket,” Shelton siad he responded to what he called a blackmail threat.
Stevens denied employing the silver bullet technique as a divorce strategy. She noted that as a legislator, she has championed legislation that would make it tougher for restraining orders to be granted, pitting her against advocates for domestic violence prevention.
But she didn’t deny that her clients have been known to file for restraining orders, often against spouses with no criminal history.
“That wouldn’t surprise me,” Stevens told me. “In some cases the domestic abuse is only against the spouse.”
Stevens did admit that Neil Shelton has never been physically violent toward his ex-wife.
On June 13, 2013, when asked by Stevens’ law partner, Zach Brinkle, if she felt afraid, Shelton’s ex-wife responded, “because I knew at that point he was desperate because he knew I meant it (filing for divorce) this time; instead of taking it and taking it and taking it … the mental issues.”
A restraining order was extended based on this perceived threat.
The Terroristic Letter
On April 24, 2013, Neil Shelton’s ex-wife, her lawyer and several other officials received a threatening letter purportedly written by Neil Shelton.
“Sarah Stevens will be dead by Friday,” the letter started ominously, “Boston [The Boston Marathon Bombing] was nothing compared to what I am planning.”
Neil Shelton was arrested later that day and charged with counts of threatening executive judicial officials.
In court, a bewildered Shelton addressed the district attorney and said, “Someone must have put something in her Jennie Craig because I don’t what you are talking about.”
In his first meeting with his court appointed lawyer, David Erdmann, Shelton said, “Don’t even worry about this letter because as soon as I lose everything in my divorce, they will drop these charges.”
Erdmann said he remembers Shelton telling him that. However, Erdmann said he was not sure the statement was accurate.
He called it Shelton’s “conspiracy theory.”
Shelton was given a $75,000 bond – unusually high for a Class I felony – and placed in a cell with a murder suspect. Ironically, the suspect was accused of killing Shelton’s best friend, Don Griffin, during a robbery.
Shelton remembers being offered a deal whereby he would plead guilty to one count of felony threatening an executive legal judicial official in exchange for probation.
“Kiss my f***ing ass,” Shelton said he told the district attorney, Ricky Bowman.
“I didn’t take the deal because I didn’t do it.” Shelton said.
Shelton remembers going to five hearings. He said prosecutors asked for a continuance each time because they were waiting for the results of a handwriting analysis. Each time, Shelton screamed that an analysis was impossible because no one had taken samples of his handwriting.
In jail, Shelton was allowed to work on his criminal case but not his divorce case. His divorce case proceeded without him. While he was in jail, the judge issued a final divorce judgment giving his ex-wife all their marital assets and sole custody of their children. Shelton did not even receive visitation.
Shelton was finally released In February 2014, two days after the final date to appeal his divorce.
Shelton said he then called the FBI, who told him they never received any handwriting to analyze.
Shelton then took the threatening letter to his own expert, who concluded with 98 percent certainty that the handwriting was that of Zach Brintle, the law partner of Sarah Stevens.
Though the criminal charges against Shelton relating to the letter have been dismissed, family court continues to approve restraining orders based on the letter.
Stevens flatly denied that her law partner wrote the letter. She said she believes that Neil Shelton is the author and considers him dangerous.
Though charged with dozens of crimes since 2010, Shelton has no convictions. All charges have either been dismissed before trial or he has been found not guilty.
The Latest Charade
On June 6, 2015, Shelton was questioned regarding a gun robbery at the Mount Airy residence of Dennis Simmons. Shelton said Sheriff County Sheriff’s Officers searched his residence but found no stolen guns or other stolen property.
Security camera footage shows Shelton knocking on the front door of Simmons’ residence about an hour before the footage shows an individual breaking into the home. Shelton said he did visit the home because he was told Simmons had information about his children, but left when no one answered the door.
Shelton told CDN that the officer told him he would be arrested the following the day, but instead, a warrant was issued for his arrest the following week and his name was published in the Mount Airy News as a fugitive from justice on June 14, 2015.
He was arrested by Surrey County sheriff’s deputies on June 15, 2015.
Shelton said the officers showed him a photo of a man with boots similar to his. The photo doesn’t show the man’s face. Shelton also said sheriff’s officers called Sarah Stevens – his wife’s divorce attorney — to inform her of his arrest, even though it was unrelated to the divorce case.
The Surrey County sheriff’s department provided a copy of Shelton’s arrest. It declined to provide a photo of the suspect, because the investigation is ongoing. The department had no further comment.
Stevens didn’t respond to an email for comment about why she was contacted by the sheriff and informed of the arrest.
The arrest happened three days before Shelton’s scheduled June 18 hearing to renew a previous restraining order. That hearing was stayed when a previous request to have a new judge hear the case was processed.
Shelton believes the arrests and charges are directly aimed at impacting the restraining order hearing. He also believes authorities will continue to arrest him to dissuade him from other actions. “I think, if history has a way of repeating itself, they will stack whatever charges they can against me to extort a plea from me from suing the DA and city, which I fully intend on doing,” Shelton told CDN.