Evidence waits, slowing murder case proceedings

By Joe Beck

WOODSTOCK — A judge postponed a preliminary hearing for accused murderer Claude Delmus Shafer Jr. Friday after Commonwealth’s Attorney Amanda Wiseley said it was too soon for her to proceed.

Wiseley said she received “a significant amount” of new evidence a few days ago that she is still reviewing. She said she is also waiting for laboratory results of crime scene evidence that was sent to the state Department of Forensic Science.

“The commonwealth is not prepared to move forward,” Wiseley told General District Judge Amy Tisinger.

Wiseley initially said she wanted to drop all charges against Shafer – first-degree murder, burglary with intent to commit one or more violent crimes and theft of a firearm. The charges would have been dropped only for as long as it took her to reintroduce the charges for possible indictment by a circuit court grand jury.

Shafer’s attorney, Public Defender Tim Coyne, said he opposed dropping the charges, citing his client’s right to a preliminary hearing in general district court. Shafer’s case would not be eligible for a preliminary hearing once it moves to circuit court.

Coyne said Shafer has been in jail since his arrest in mid-June after authorities linked him to the stabbing death of Phyllis Kline, 65, in her home at 14887 Old Valley Pike, Edinburg.

Shafer, 35, of 14447 Old Valley Pike, Edinburg, appeared in court with Coyne and assistant public defender Peter McDermott.

Coyne said Wiseley was not to blame for the long delay in holding the preliminary hearing, which was originally scheduled for September. Coyne criticized the sheriff’s office for taking too long in delivering evidence to Wiseley.

“I blame the sheriff’s office,” Coyne said. “They did not give her the information she needs.”

In a telephone interview afterward, Sheriff Timothy C. Carter declined to respond to Coyne’s comments.

“The sheriff’s office does not make comments regarding the process once it’s under the judicial process,” Carter said.

After speaking privately for a few minutes with Coyne, Wiseley agreed to his request for a new date for the preliminary hearing.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com