The Rachael Warrior story – How a killer was acquitted of all charges and walked free

Rachael Wierzbicki

The untimely death of Rachael Jane Wierzbicki at the hands of her boyfriend Shane Casado led to the formation of the Rachael Warrior Foundation – a non-profit foundation based in New York that provides relief and aid to domestic violence victims in crises. The foundation was created in April 2019.

On the night of November 27, 2018, 22-year-old Rachael was fatally shot by the then 24-year-old Casado in front of his home on Edson Street, South Buffalo. Out of the three close-range shots fired by Casado’s 0.22 caliber rifle, two hit Rachael in the abdomen. She passed away from her injuries the next morning.

Shane Casado called 911 after shooting Rachael Wierzbicki, claiming that he “didn’t really mean to hit her”

Shane Casado and Rachael Wierzbicki

Rachael Wierzbicki and Shane Casado, who had been casually dating for six months, were going through a bitter breakup when Rachael showed up in front of his home on that fateful night. A few minutes later, she collapsed on the ground after being shot by her boyfriend.

The accounts differ as to why she visited Shane that night. On one hand, Rachael’s family claim that she went to “make things work” with Shane and give their relationship one last try. However, Shane claims that she arrived to confront and threaten him for instigating the breakup despite being told not to come.

According to him, Rachael was the “initial aggressor” as she slapped him across the face and refused to leave when he asked her to. She then kicked his car and punched the car window while leaving.

He, in response, fired shots from his rifle to remove her from the property with no intention to harm her. Shane then called 911 to seek help for Rachael, saying that he “didn’t really mean to hit her”. He also wanted to end the call to help her but the call operator convinced him to remain on the line until the paramedics arrived.

At the eight-day trial held in Erie County Court three years later, the prosecution charged Shane with second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter. But the record of the 911 call proved to be critical evidence against the prosecutors as they could not prove that Shane had planned to kill or hurt Rachael beyond a reasonable doubt.

Shane testified that he was “afraid for his life” and was unaware that his 0.22 caliber rifle used for target practice could kill a person. Hence, on October 7, 2021, after a six-hour deliberation, the jury found him not guilty of both charges – Shane Casado was acquitted of murder and manslaughter.

Rachael’s family called the not-guilty verdict “despicable” and an instance of victim blaming

Rachael’s parents

As expected, Rachael’s family was disappointed and unhappy with the jury’s decision to acquit their daughter’s killer of all charges.

“As is often the case, the victim of domestic violence is blamed for their abuse… The jury sent a message loud and clear, ‘she got what she deserved,’. They listened to his lies and set her killer free. It’s despicable,” said Lauri Wierzbicki, Rachael’s mother.

Shane’s family, however, welcomed the verdict and said that they “knew the whole time” that he was not guilty. Despite sending their condolences to Rachael’s parents, they maintained that the case was not an “open and shut” one.

“There were aspects of justification. There certainly were aspects of justification, and the jury got it right. The reality is Shane never intended for this to happen, and the jury saw that he did not want it to happen,” said the defense attorney Teo Siguenza after the verdict.

Nevertheless, the Wierzbicki family plans to pursue a civil case against Shane Casado. As of now, they are engaged in running the Rachael Warrior Foundation, helping domestic violence victims, in memory of their daughter.