Shafer sentenced to 60 years for murder

WOODSTOCK – Claude Delmus Shafer Jr., convicted in the murder of Phyllis Kline, was sentenced Friday in Shenandoah County Circuit Court to 60 years in prison, a period of time almost certain to be equal to a life sentence.

Shafer, 38, had entered an Alford plea of guilty in June to the murder of Kline, 65, a neighbor, fellow churchgoer, and woman who had hired him to perform chores around her home, despite his lengthy criminal record. An Alford plea allows a defendant to continue to insist he is innocent while admitting that the prosecution has enough evidence to convict him.

Commonwealth’s attorney Amanda Wiseley said Shafer and several companions broke into Kline’s house at 14887 Old Valley Pike, Edinburg, on the night of June 14, 2014. Authorities found Kline in a bed covered with blood two days later.

Wiseley said Kline had been stabbed seven times in the head and neck.

Circuit Judge Dennis L. Hupp’s sentence also included 34 years and 10 months for probation violations stemming from Shafer’s long criminal history, which included at least 10 burglaries.