Shooting defendant says trial deadline has passed

WOODSTOCK — The fate of the prosecution’s case against Shawn Jason Nicely will remain undetermined for at least a few more weeks after a hearing Friday on a motion by the defense to dismiss the charge of involuntary manslaughter.

Nicely is accused in the shooting death of a woman near where Nicely had been target practicing with his 17-year-old daughter at the time of the incident.

Authorities say Nicely fired a 30.06 rifle from property at 37 Charlotte Lane, Mount Jackson, into a nearby home at 259 Charlotte Lane on Nov. 21, 2014. Gina Shoemaker, 46, of Edinburg, died after one of the rounds hit her while she was inside, law enforcement officials have said.

Nicely’s attorney, Robert L. Vaughn Jr. of Reston, argued at Friday’s hearing that Commonwealth’s Attorney Amanda McDonald Wiseley had violated the state law guaranteeing defendants a speedy trial.

Judge Dennis L. Hupp said he would rule on the motion after hearing from Wiseley later this month on several points made by Vaughn in his motion.

The law provides that a defendant who is out on bail must be tried within nine months of his indictment by a grand jury. The statute states if the trial does not begin within the specified nine months, the defendant “shall forever be discharged from prosecution” for the charge filed against him.

Vaughn contended the case had to be tried by Jan. 15. Nicely was indicted April 14. The case is scheduled for a three-day trial on May 25 through May 27. As a result, Vaughn said, the case should be dismissed.

Vaughn insisted that Virginia case law places the burden of meeting the speedy trial requirement solely on the prosecution unless the defense waives the right.

Vaughn cited a motion by Wiseley in early October to delay the case, a motion he objected to, as the reason why the trial date was scheduled beyond Jan. 15.

“We wouldn’t be here if the commonwealth hadn’t made the motion to continue on that date,” Vaughn said.

Wiseley said the trial scheduling was complicated by difficulties in arranging the testimony of two witnesses.

“We had two witnesses under subpoena by another jurisdiction, and (one) was the medical examiner,” Wiseley told Hupp.

Vaughn objected to Hupp’s decision to postpone a ruling on the motion. Vaughn, who is being paid by Nicely, said the defendant is hard pressed financially and having increasing difficulty paying for a non-court appointed attorney the longer the case goes on.

“I understand Mr. Nicely would like to bring the case to a conclusion,” Hupp said. “I fully understand that.”

Hupp added that he considered the issue raised by Vaughn to be “of such importance” that he wanted more time for it to be “fully briefed” by both sides.

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