Shafer to get mental exam in murder case

WOODSTOCK – Accused murderer Claude Shafer Jr. will be examined by a psychologist to determine his understanding of questions asked by law enforcement officials and his grasp of Miranda rights when he waived them after his arrest.

Circuit Judge Dennis L. Hupp granted a motion Wednesday by Shafer’s defense attorneys, Edward Ungvarsky and Timothy Coyne, asking that they be allowed to hire a psychologist at a cost of up to $6,000.

Shafer, 36, of Edinburg, is charged with capital murder and could be sentenced to death if convicted. He is accused of stabbing and robbing Phyllis Kline, 65, of 14887 Old Valley Pike in her Edinburg home on June 14, 2013.

Ungvarsky told Hupp he wanted to explore whether Shafer’s “intellectual disability” may cast doubt on how voluntarily he gave statements to law enforcement officers after waiving his Miranda rights.

“We have an expert who has determined that he has an IQ of 75,” Ungvarsky said of Shafer.

A score of 100 is average on the majority of IQ tests.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Amanda Wiseley said much is already known about Shafer from other experts who have weighed in on the case.

“I’m not sure what else can be added,” Wiseley said of Ungvarsky’s motion.

Ungvarsky said the psychologist will be hired at a rate of $300 per hour for up to 20 hours of work.

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