Murder scene details emerge in trial

FRONT ROYAL — Several prosecution witnesses described Monday at the murder trial of Clay Marshall Curtis what they found at the December 2014 crime scene where the body of Front Royal cab driver Simon Funk was found.

Winchester Police Officer Jason Poe, who was a sergeant with the Warren County Sheriff’s Office at the time of the murder, was the first to discover the body on the property in the Shenandoah Farms subdivision in Front Royal, where Curtis’ sister lived at the time.

Poe testified that he saw a spot in the woods on the night of Dec. 9 that stood out to him because, at that time of year, the woods would have “settled.”

“It didn’t sit right with me,” Poe said of the spot where the body was later discovered.

He added that it appeared as if the leaves on the ground had been arranged in a pile with some sticks, and that the pile seemed to be more long than wide. Then, Poe said that he saw a human hand on the ground, sticking out from the pile.

Poe told the court that once he saw the hand, he watched the pile for any signs of life, but saw none. He told the other law enforcement officials on the scene — all of whom were looking for Funk — to back away from the body as to not disturb it while they waited for investigators to arrive.

Medical examiner Mary Stanley arrived the morning of Dec. 10, and told the court that it was very cold when she reached the Front Royal property. When she was directed to the body, she observed what she described as “upturned earth,” noting that it was apparent that there was something under the pile of leaves and sticks.

Sgt. William Smoot of the Warren County Sheriff’s Office photographed the scene while Stanley and Lt. Gordon Foster removed layers of evidence from the body. After the layer of sticks and leaves was removed, Stanley testified, a red blanket that was covering the body was also taken away.

Stanley told the court that she observed a fully-clothed adult male whose body was damp from the weather and cold to the touch.

She said that upon immediate observation, blood on the forehead was noticeable. Investigators lifted the hooded sweatshirt and undershirt on the body and observed a gunshot wound to the abdomen, Stanley testified.

The evidence from the scene — a bullet fragment, a pair of wire glasses, a pair of sunglasses, a black cell phone case, and a red blanket — were all packaged, sealed, and taken away in a crime scene vehicle for further analysis.

The body was placed on a clean white sheet, the medical examiner testified, and then placed in a body bag and taken to the Medical Examiner’s Office in Manassas.

The jury was shown photos of the area where the body was found, photos of the body under the red blanket, and close up shots of the wounds.