Man found guilty of 1st degree murder

FRONT ROYAL — After less than two hours of deliberation, A jury Thursday found Clay Marshall Curtis guilty of first degree murder in the 2014 shooting death of Front Royal cab driver Simon Funk.

The jury chose the maximum punishment, and recommended life imprisonment with a $100,000 fine.

Curtis, 64, was found not guilty on a related charge of attempted second-degree murder stemming from accusations that he attempted to hit Jeff Sisler, also of Front Royal, with a van belonging to Funk.

The jury unanimously agreed that Curtis killed Funk, that the killing was malicious, deliberate and premeditated, and therefore found the defendant guilty of first-degree murder. Curtis was also convicted of using a firearm in the commission of a felony.

The jury had the option of finding Curtis guilty on a lesser charge of second-degree murder, which does not require premeditation, or voluntary manslaughter, which would include a crime of passion or a killing during combat. They did not choose those options, however.

In terms of sentencing, the jury had the option of recommending a minimum of 20 years in prison on the murder charge, and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment with a $100,000 fine. They were also informed of a geriatric parole option, which would allow Curtis to petition for an earlier release after serving at least 10 years of his sentence.

The jury  recommended the mandatory minimum sentence of three years in prison for the conviction on using a firearm in the commission of a felony.

A sentencing hearing, as well as a hearing on a defense motion to set aside the jury’s verdict, has been set for Sept. 18 in Warren County Circuit Court. State law allows judges to reduce a jury’s sentencing recommendation but prevents them from imposing a stricter sentence.