Shafer Jr. transferred to mental facility

Claude Shafer Jr.

The transfer of Claude Delmus Shafer Jr. from the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail to Central State Hospital in Petersburg has been completed more than two months after Circuit Judge Dennis L. Hupp ordered it.

Shafer, who is facing the possibility of the death penalty in a capital murder case, was sent to Central State on Friday, three days after one of his attorneys sent a letter to Central State’s admission officer asking that Shafer be transferred “as soon as possible.”

Shafer, 37, of Edinburg, is accused of fatally stabbing and robbing Phyllis Kline, 65, of 14887 Old Valley Pike in her Edinburg home in June 2013. He has been in jail since his arrest days after Kline’s death.

Hupp’s order in late February that Shafer be sent to Central State followed warnings by the defendant’s attorneys, Edward Ungvarsky and Timothy Coyne, that their client’s mental condition was deteriorating and continuing his confinement in the jail risked the possibility that he would soon no longer be competent to stand trial.

Court documents show officials at Central State initially cited a backlog of transfer patients in early March that was likely to prevent moving Shafer for up to three weeks. A month later, Shafer was still at RSW, and Hupp cited a report from a psychologist declaring Shafer unfit to stand trial. Hupp ordered that Shafer undergo treatment at Central State to restore his mental competency.

Central State officials have refused to comment specifically on Shafer’s case. More broadly, they have cited a lack of legally required information from attorneys about their clients as the most common factor in slowing the transfer of patients from jails to the hospital.

Court files in Shafer’s case show that Ungvarsky sent a letter to Central State on April 28 in which he reported transmitting several mental health records and court documents pertaining to Shafer’s case.

“Please coordinate Mr. Shafer’s transfer and restoration proceedings as soon as possible,” Ungvarsky wrote.

An RSW jail staff member Tuesday confirmed that Shafer had been transferred to Central State on Friday.

No other information on Shafer was available from hospital officials or his attorneys.

“I can’t really give you anything,” Coyne said Tuesday when asked about the transfer.

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