Man testifies defendant tried to hit him with van

FRONT ROYAL — The alleged victim in an attempted murder charge filed against Clay Marshall Curtis — in addition to the first-degree murder charge Marshall is facing — testified on Monday about his version of the December 2014 case.

Jeff Sisler — who lived across the street from Curtis’ sister, where the body of Front Royal cab driver Simon Funk was found — testified that on the night of the fatal shooting, while Curtis was in Funk’s van, Curtis attempted to hit and drive over Sisler with the van.

Sisler testified that Curtis’ sister had called Sisler and asked him to investigate a disturbance on her property the night of Dec. 9, 2014. He said that he saw the van at the base of her estimated 150-foot driveway, and did not see anyone inside. He said he walked up to Curtis’ sister, who was standing at her front door with a phone in one hand and a gun in the other.

He then saw a flashlight from the woods next to the residence going toward the van. Sisler, who was wearing dark clothing on what he described as a pitch-black night, tried to sneak up on the van after telling Curtis’ sister to contact the police. Sisler said he saw Curtis behind the steering wheel and asked who he was, and Curtis then identified himself.

“I’ve come to pay my sister a visit,” Curtis responded, according to Sisler, in a “nasty tone.”

Sisler said that Curtis then lunged forward as if to grab something from under the driver’s seat. Sisler, who said he had “serious concern” for his life, grabbed Curtis and put him in a headlock. Sisler demonstrated the headlock for the court. At that point, Sisler said, Curtis had put his hands up as if to surrender.

Backing away from Curtis, Sisler told Curtis that he had the defendant blocked in the driveway with his SUV parked at the bottom of it. As he was walking back toward Curtis’ sister, he said he heard the van’s engine start and that it was “accelerating rapidly.” He added that it got very close to him, and he dived between two parked trucks for protection.

The van hit a fire pit on its way up the driveway and then launched into the air before hitting a tree, Sisler testified. He said that Curtis’ sister was standing on her porch “like a statue” after the van hit the tree, and he had to urge her again to call the police. Curtis  allegedly fled on foot at that time.

The defense challenged Sisler on his ability to recognize Curtis, as Sisler had also testified that it was pitch black and that he would not have been able to see his hand in front of his face.

“I am 100 percent positive that man was driving that van,” Sisler responded. “I know that face. I’ll never forget that face.”