Pastor, 53, arrested at the airport after 'stabbing his wife to death was heading to Europe to marry his boyfriend'
- Richard Shahan was arrested at Tennessee airport in January although he was required to stay in the country as police investigated his wife's death
- Claimed he had been with his son at the time of her death last July and that he was leaving the country for a three-year mission
- But police said inconsistencies led them to suspect him
- Prosecutors said 3,000 emails revealed 'he was hoping to leave U.S. and eventually settle in the U.K., where he was going to marry his boyfriend'
Richard Lee Shahan, 53, was arrested on January 1 as he boarded a plane from Nashville to Germany, six months after the body of his wife, Karen, was found at their house in Homewood.
Reports had initially suggested he was planning on going to Kazakhstan for a three-year mission trip as police - who had asked him to remain in the country - investigated his wife's death.
But on Thursday, Prosecutor Leigh Gwathney told a Jefferson County District judge that information from more than 3,000 of Shahan's emails showed he was hoping to leave the U.S. and never return.
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Accused: Alabama pastor Richard Shahan, left, has been accused of stabbing his wife Karen, right, to death before attempting to board a plane to Germany so he could marry his boyfriend
The emails showed he was heading to Germany and then on to Kazakhstan, and ultimately planned to move to the United Kingdom, she said, AL.com reported.
'He planned to become a citizen there and begin a new life with his boyfriend... who he intended to marry,' Gwathney said. 'He had no intention of ever returning to the United States. He had no home to return to and he had said his goodbyes to his family.'
Bond was set at $100,000, which he was expected to make, before remaining on house arrest.
Shahan had claimed that he was visiting one of their sons in Kentucky at the time of his wife's death, but because the investigation was ongoing, he had been asked to stay in the country.
His defense, Wendell Sheffield and John Lentine, disputed claims that he was leaving the country for good and asked if there was actual 'direct evidence' of Shahan's guilt.
'Revelations': Shahan appeared in court on Thursday, where prosecutors revealed their shocking claims
They argued that he was leaving the country for his mission trip in Frankfurt, which had been detailed in several newsletters and prayers cards in December.
Former life: Shahan, a once beloved pastor, later quit Birmingham's First Baptist Church
Shahan has been held in the Jefferson County Jail without bond since his arrest. A preliminary hearing has now been set for February 5.
The body of his 53-year-old wife Karen, who had been stabbed to death, was found on the morning of July 23 after she failed to show up for work. Officers said the house appeared to be in disarray.
After his wife's death Shahan was put on paid administrative leave from the First Baptist Church. He had resigned from his post on December 31.
When his wife's body was discovered, Shahan was questioned and kept in police cells for 48 hours.
He claimed he had been visiting one of the couple's two sons in Kentucky at the time of the murder, and was released without charge.
Homewood Police Chief Jim Roberson said 'certain inconsistencies' in the pastor's interviews had led to officers to consider him as their main suspect.
Shahan had already checked in his luggage at the airport when he was stopped. He had been booked on to a flight to Frankfurt, but police claimed he had intended to then travel on to Russia.
Scene: Evidence is collected from the couple's home after Karen was found stabbed in July last year
Crime scene: Shahan claimed he had been in Kentucky visiting one of their sons, but police said there were inconsistencies in his story and named him as the main suspect
A statement from his First Baptist Church of Birmingham said: 'All of us were saddened by the unexpected news that Richard Shahan was arrested by Homeland Security just moments before his planned flight departure for Frankfurt, Germany.'
'There, he was to assume his new role working with the Children's ministry of Bible Mission International, primarily in Kazakhstan.'
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