Months after Shemethia Coteat Stanton was killed in an ambush in 2020, the state of Alabama auctioned off her wedding ring to a man from Missouri who is now refusing to sell it back to her family. Stanton, 41, was gunned down outside her apartment on February 14, 2020. The case remains open.
Her family told AL.com that her ring was sold without their knowledge during an online Jefferson County auction in December 2020. The coroner’s office labeled the ring unclaimed property and sold it in a $1,700 lot of items to Harold Blaker of Missouri. Now the slain woman’s relatives are fighting to get the ring back from Blaker. The murdered woman’s ex-husband Phillip Stanton said he offered Blaker more money than what he paid for at auction but he is still refusing to sell.
“She was murdered by the streets and robbed by the state,” Phillip Stanton told AL.com. Even though Phillip Stanton and his wife were divorced, they remained close and the woman even continued to wear her wedding ring, according to AL.com.
Chief Deputy Coroner Bill Yates said months before the ring went up for auction, his office had contacted the murdered woman’s son, who was the official next of kin. He said his office did not hear back. Thus, the ring was deemed unclaimed property, and under Alabama state law, the ring could be sold at public auction with the proceeds going to the county, AL.com reported.
Yates said he put Phillip Stanton in contact with the man who bought the ring. “This office tried to assist in brokering a deal between the two parties. I wrote a letter to the winning bidder explaining the nature of the death, and the history of item, the significance of it, and encouraged them to find a way so that the family could get this item back,’’ Yates said.
“It appears that was happening, and then I just found out that he’s for some reason changed his mind,” Yates added.
Phillip Stanton said he contacted Blaker, 85, about a month ago and made arrangements to buy back the ring for $2,000. “I told him the situation and he said, ‘that’s fine,’ and that he would hold it for me,’’ Phillip Stanton said. “I told him as soon as we got the money, we’d be sending it to him.”
But Blaker later changed his mind and refused to sell the ring. Phillip Stanton said Blaker raised concerns about mailing the ring without first getting payment. AL.com said it contacted Blaker and offered to drive the money to him, but he still said no.
“I bought it fair and square,” Blaker told AL.com, saying he had been “screwed” around on deals like this. “I bought it and paid for it,’’ Blaker said. “I’m not obligated to him at all. I’m sorry that he got involved in a murder thing, but that’s beyond my control.”