The prosecuting attorney for the 16th Judicial District, Holly Meyer, recently emailed White River Now’s Gary Bridgman to follow up on the James Hagen Glenn case and resulting negotiated guilty plea in the death of 4-year-old Skylar Shellstrom. The reference to Glenn not being in Colorado is from a July 13 posting on White River Now. We incorrectly reported Glenn was in Colorado at the time of Skylar’s death when, in fact, he was hunting in Stone County. We regret the error, and it has since been corrected. You can read the article here: UPDATE: Gary B. talks with prosecuting attorney about Glenn plea.
I wanted to follow up our conversation with a summary. As we discussed there is a great deal of misinformation concerning the facts in this case.
It is not correct that Hagen Glenn was in Colorado. Skylar’s father, Mr. Shellstrom, was living in Colorado and in Colorado at the time of Skylar’s death. Glenn, the boyfriend of Victoria Dycus, was hunting and in the Stone County area at the time of Skylar’s death.
The Arkansas State Medical Examiner Dr. Erickson testified at the murder trial of Dycus that the fatal blow(s) that caused the tear in the child, Skylar Shellstrom’s, duodenal juncture and spilled the contents of her GI tract into her tiny abdomen occurred not more than 24-48 hours before her death from sepsis. It was the testimony of every witness that Glenn was not alone with the child and had gone hunting during this critical period of time. Dycus testified that she alone cared for the child during this critical period of time. Several witnesses testified that injuries and bruising were not visible the day before the child’s death (except the burn on the nose), including the maternal grandmother that spent the day before death with Dycus and the child in several public places. The ME also testified there was no semen in this case and no evidence of sexual abuse. He testified that the internal injuries showed evidence of long-term healing and scarring. Glenn had only been in the child’s life a few months. There is no doubt the child’s injuries at the time of death were horrific. Once the ME testified, the door was closed on Glenn being tried for murder as he was excluded from the critical time and had an alibi. Evidence shows Dycus delivered the death blow.
Dycus took the witness stand during her trial and blamed Glenn for Skylar’s death but was unable to testify to seeing, hearing, or even being aware of any credible episode of Glenn abusing Skylar during their approximately three-month relationship. Dycus denied that she knew Skylar was abused and admitted that she had only come to think of Glenn as abusive during the time she was preparing for her own trial but could not articulate any facts incriminating Glenn. Dycus testified that the burn that Glenn did to Skylar’s nose days before her death was an accident with a blow dryer. Dycus said she was unaware of any of the other extensive injuries to Skylar on the date of death despite their obvious presence.
There is a great deal of suspicion and speculation and conjecture concerning Glenn, which I share, however, the law, judges, and juries require proof. There was nobody in the courtroom more familiar with the timeline, expert testimony, evidence, lay testimony, and pictures than I. The jury and community never want to believe that a mother could be monster enough to do this to her own child. The jury heard no proof that Glenn committed this murder or aided in the murder except Dycus’ self-serving but unarticulated “suspicion.” If Dycus is protecting Glenn she may take this to her grave – but she is clearly a murderer.
Glenn was sentenced to the Arkansas Department of Corrections for the burning of Skylar’s nose days before her death. This is what the facts, investigation, and evidence support. Dycus called it an accident but the injuries are not consistent with an accident and I believe it was abuse. The State can prove battery first degree regarding this burning. That is what Glenn plead to and received four years at the ADC followed by 6 SIS. Is this an eye for an eye? No. There is no jail term in any case that can ever compare to the injury or loss of an innocent. The press and the family were notified of the plea and family was present in the courtroom. Proof of this abuse does not equal murder according to Arkansas law but there is no defending Glenn’s horrific conduct. This was the best outcome for Skylar given the facts of this investigation. The facts and evidence available do not support Glenn’s conviction for murder.
The Prosecuting Attorney’s Office gave the jury every iota of evidence and gave voice to every impassioned argument on behalf of Skylar in the murder trial. The jury worked hard and deliberated approximately four hours to convict on this difficult, complicated and circumstantial case. The jury convicted Dycus and chose to give her 19 years in the ADC despite my request in closing for much more. I encourage anyone that was unable to attend the trial that is interested in the facts of these two intertwined cases to read the transcript of the murder trial which will be available at the clerk’s office in the coming weeks since Dycus has appealed her conviction.
I appreciate the opportunity to represent the victims of crime and enforce the law of the State of Arkansas. I always do it zealously. Ask anyone that knows me or has been in the courtroom with me. Ask the people who attended Skylar’s mother’s trial and heard the evidence and arguments of counsel. I offer my best advice on every case to the families and seek the maximum punishment for offenders that the facts and law support on this and every case in consultation with the families.
Finally, I encourage everyone to turn our full attention to Skylar and children like Skylar. Please keep a watchful eye out for all children because not all monsters look like monsters. Sometimes, hopefully rarely, they are our neighbors and family. Skylar’s father, extended family, friends, and the entire community will rightly grieve her death forever.
Holly Meyer, Prosecuting Attorney
16th Judicial District of Arkansas
P.O. Box 4050
Batesville, Arkansas 72501
(870) 793-8825 office
(870) 793-8870 fax
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