Trial set in involuntary manslaughter case

Shawn Nicely

WOODSTOCK – The case of a man charged with involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of a woman who died in a residence near where he had been target practicing has been scheduled for a jury trial in Shenandoah County Circuit Court.

Judge Dennis L. Hupp scheduled the trial for Oct. 5 and Oct. 6 after rejecting several arguments that challenged the legality of statements the defendant, Shawn Jason Nicely, gave to authorities investigating the shooting.

Nicely, 37, of 1523 Fravel Road, Woodstock, is accused of firing a 30.06 rifle from property at 37 Charlotte Lane, Mount Jackson, into a nearby residence at 259 Charlotte Lane on Nov. 21. The prosecution says one of several rounds fired by Nicely toward the residence hit and killed Gina Shoemaker, 46, of Edinburg. He has been charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Court documents say Nicely told law enforcement officials that he was target practicing with his 17-year-old daughter at the time of the shooting.

Court documents contain a written statement Nicely gave to a Sheriff’s Office deputy after the shooting that states Nicely set up the target “in the field where I thought was free of anything in the background.”

Nicely’s attorney, Robert L. Vaughn Jr. of Reston, challenged the legality of several statements his client made to authorities in the aftermath of the shooting. Specifically, Vaughn contended that members of the Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement agencies investigating the incident had failed to provide Nicely with a Miranda warning. They also questioned him while he was under mental stress, which renders his statements involuntary and inadmissible in court, Vaughn said.

The court files contain a Sheriff’s Office summary of the case that states Nicely complained of chest pains a few minutes after authorities arrived and began their investigation.

The summary reads in part: “Rescue personnel responded to check on (Nicely’s) physical well-being. Due to a high heart rate and his blood pressure being high, Shawn was transported to Shenandoah Memorial Hospital for further tests and observation.”

Hupp rejected Vaughn’s efforts to bar Nicely’s statements from trial. He also overruled an effort by Vaughn to exclude as evidence several firearms seized during the investigation.

Commonwealth’s attorney Amanda McDonald Wiseley said in an interview she was pleased that Hupp agreed to allow Nicely’s statements and his confiscated firearms as evidence at the trial.

“The court agreed with the commonwealth that everything done that evening was lawful and not in violation of Mr. Nicely’s rights,” McDonald Wiseley said.

Hupp has yet to rule on a motion by Vaughn asking that one or the other of the two charges facing Nicely – involuntary manslaughter and reckless handling of a firearm – be dismissed.

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