Shafer gets investigator to help defense in murder case

By Joe Beck

WOODSTOCK — Accused murderer Claude Delmus Shafer Jr. will get a private investigator to help assemble his defense as he faces the possibility of a trial followed by the death penalty.

Shenandoah County Circuit Judge Dennis L. Hupp Wednesday granted a motion by Shafer’s attorneys asking that they be allowed to hire an investigator. Hupp capped the amount to be spent at $7,500.

“That’s a reasonable amount,” Hupp said. “It may have to increase as time goes on.”

Shafer, 35, of 14447 Old Valley Pike, Edinburg, entered the courtroom in shackles at the beginning of the hearing and shook hands with one of his attorneys, public defender Timothy Coyne. The hearing also marked the first courtroom appearance in the case of Edward Ungvarsky, a member of the Northern Virginia Capital Public Defender Unit, who is working with Coyne on behalf of Shafer.

Authorities believe Shafer stabbed and robbed Phyllis Kline, 65, of 14887 Old Valley Pike, in her Edinburg home on June 14.

Hupp said he hoped Coyne and Ungvarsky will hire someone local as an investigator. The judge said a local investigator will live closer to work and likely charge less for his services.

Hupp also rejected a motion from Coyne and Ungvarsky requesting the appointment of a third defense attorney. State and American Bar Association guidelines call for the appointment of at least two attorneys in death penalty cases.

Ungvarsky told Hupp he “may come back” and ask for the appointment of Woodstock attorney William Allen as the third defense attorney. Hupp said he had spoken to Allen earlier about the possibility of joining the defense team.

Ungvarsky said earlier in the hearing that Shafter had waived his right to a speedy trial under state law.

Ungvarsky also asked for more time to write a discovery motion that requires the prosecution to turn over evidence it has obtained against his defendant.

“I’d like to sit down and meet with her before we put together a discovery order,” Ungvarsky said of Commonwealth’s Attorney Amanda Wiseley.

Hupp scheduled the next hearing for 2 p.m. July 3.

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