Man’s family says he was unfairly convicted in death of former Cleveland mayor’s grandson

Published: Nov. 2, 2022 at 8:48 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - A family is speaking out after the verdict in a high-profile murder trial this week.

Robert Shephard was found guilty in connection with the death of the former Cleveland Mayor’s grandson, Frank Q Jackson.

From the number of seats per family in the courtroom to the verdict itself, Shephard’s sister says her brother didn’t get a fair trial from the start.

“The world need to know that [stuff] wasn’t fair at all,” she said. “I feel unheard. I feel helpless.”

Shephard’s sister spoke to 19 Investigates about his case and another murder case that involves the former Cleveland Mayor’s family.

“I feel like I’m up against it’s our family up against them. All we can do is show up in court. We have to play by their laws. How are we going to fight back against him? He’s got it made,” she said.

This week, a jury found Shephard guilty of working with a group in a plot to kill the former Mayor’s grandson.

Prosecutors say Shephard used Frank Q’s dirt bike to lure him to the spot where he would be shot and killed.

“He was the setup man,” prosecutors said.

In court, prosecutors didn’t go in to great detail about a motive in the case. Shepard’s family says they didn’t hear them give a reason why Shephard would want Frank dead.

“Make it make sense. Make it make sense. Why,” Shephard’s sister said.

Prosecutors say phone records show Frank called Shepard minutes before he died. Prosecutors built their case on that and surveillance video they say shows Shepard point out the place where he put Frank’s dirt bike.

The shooter later got out of the car prosecutors say Shephard was talking to.

We’re not identifying Robert’s sister, because she says she’s concerned for her safety. But, she’s willing to risk it all for her brother.

“Everybody on social media is saying how did he get convicted of this crime. He didn’t do it. He didn’t do it,” she said.

Defense attorneys say there is no proof Shephard knew Frank was about to be murdered when he put the bike in Garden Valley.

Shephard left the scene and, again, though his sister says he wasn’t in on any plan to kill Frank, Shephard was also never accused of pulling the trigger.

Police testified in court that the shooter nor the get away driver has been identified.

“That’s the main thing,” she said. “You’re going to get him for murder. It ain’t murder. How is he the only one on trial for this?”

And that’s not all. The Shepard family is reeling from the arrest and conviction of Robert, who they maintain is innocent, while the family also continues to mourn the death of Shepard’s nephew, Chris’shon Coleman. Investigators say Coleman was murdered by Jackson’s nephew and the family believes it was in retaliation.

Donald Jackson Gates, the mayor’s great-grandson, is accused of shooting and killing Coleman after Shepard was indicted.

“He took my nephew’s life behind some [stuff] my brother didn’t even do,” Shephard’s sister said.

Coleman’s sister also came to speak with 19 Investigates. She says her brother’s murder and the killings of dozens of others in Cleveland weren’t treated the same as Frank Q’s.

“I feel like everything wasn’t fair from the start. When frank died they had like 8 different departments there and when my brother died, I was able to get to the scene. [There] wasn’t no body there. My brother was still on the floor,” she said.

Shephard’s family says his lawyer is going to appeal the guilty verdict.

His sentencing is scheduled for November 15th.

Meanwhile, they’re preparing to be on the other side of the courtroom for Donald Jackson’s murder trial.

“It’s unfair to us, because these are the same people we’ve got to see when we go to court for my nephew,” Shephard’s sister said.

The Jackson family declined to comment on the case in court.

We’ve covered this case extensively in our true-crime podcast, Dark Side of the Land.

In next week’s episode, you’ll hear more of our conversation with the Shephard family and testimony from the trial.