Murder trial in cab driver’s death continued to May

Clay Curtis

FRONT ROYAL – A scheduled trial for the man accused in the shooting death of Front Royal cab driver Simon Funk Jr. was postponed for about a month Monday in Warren County Circuit Court.

Judge Clifford L. “Clay” Athey Jr. granted the postponement in the trial for Clay Marshall Curtis — the man indicted for the December 2014 murder of Funk — after the judge denied the defense’s motion to have certain DNA evidence barred from proceedings.

David Hensley and John Bell, Curtis’s defense attorneys, argued that the prosecution failed to meet a deadline in state law for submitting the evidence in advance of the trial. They said that that even though they had been aware of the existence of DNA evidence in blood found on Curtis’s clothes for some time, that evidence was not submitted by the prosecution, “at least twenty-one days prior to commencement of the proceeding,” the statute says.

The judge used a legal precedent to deny the defense’s motion, stating that it was purely a technical violation by the prosecutors, Commonwealth’s Attorney Brian Madden and Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Layton. Athey
allowed for a postponement if the defendant chose, noting that his availability was very limited for most of the year, and that he wanted to be mindful of the defendant’s constitutional rights to a speedy trial.

“The court has some concern about continuing this case way out,” Athey said during the proceedings.

Curtis is facing charges of first- and second-degree murder, as well as a charge for the use of a firearm in commission of a felony. If convicted, he faces 20 years to life imprisonment.

All parties agreed to continue the trial to May 8-May 12, going on to May 13 if necessary. But, if there are any scheduling conflicts with key witnesses or experts, all parties agreed to continue proceedings on the judge’s next available five-day period: Nov. 27 to Dec. 1.

Curtis also faces a jury trial on Aug. 16 on a related charge of being a felon in possession of a handgun. His criminal record includes a 24-year sentence in prison for an earlier conviction on the same charge.

Contact staff writer Briahnna Brown at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or bbrown@nvdaily.com