Possible motive revealed in murder trial

FRONT ROYAL — The inmate that murder defendant Clay Marshall Curtis allegedly confessed to while in Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail testified on Wednesday to what he heard from Curtis about the December 2014 shooting death of Front Royal cab driver Simon Funk.

According to the inmate, Curtis approached the inmate’s cell door and mentioned hearing about the inmate’s marital problems. The inmate testified that Curtis said to him through the cell door, “You can’t trust women.” The inmate added that Curtis began complaining about the wife he had while he was in federal prison.

Defense attorney David Hensley shouted his objection at the mention of federal prison, as the jury is not allowed to know of any prior convictions a defendant may have had. At Circuit Judge Clifford L. Athey Jr. denied Hensley’s motion for a mistrial.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Layton took a moment outside the presence of the jury to talk to the inmate on the stand about what he is and is not allowed to say when giving his testimony.

Athey ordered the jury to disregard the part of the inmate’s testimony about Curtis’ time in federal prison.

The inmate resumed testifying. He said that Curtis was complaining about someone he had trusted, and how he had done everything for him but he didn’t want to “deal” with Curtis anymore, so he “shot him and rolled him in a blanket.”

After that happened, the inmate said, he talked to an officer to report what had happened, adding that Curtis had been “harassing” him and he wanted to be moved to a different cell. The inmate admitted to lying about his mental condition to be moved to suicide watch, away from Curtis.

The inmate added that he originally thought nothing of the confession, and that he thought Curtis was just talking. He said that his reason for testifying had nothing to do with a potential deal with the prosecution in his own case.

“I felt like the family deserved some justice,” the inmate said.

On the first day of the trial, Funk’s girlfriend testified that around Thanksgiving 2014, Curtis had given Funk $700 to pay rent and buy Christmas gifts. She also testified that Curtis had bought her a $3,000 car sometime after they met in August or September 2014. The defense asked if she had ever had a sexual relationship with Curtis. She was visibly appalled by the question.

“He’s gay!” she exclaimed. “Absolutely not!”

During Wednesday’s hearing, Hensley pressed the inmate on his criminal history of felonies and the grand larceny charge he is currently facing. The inmate responded by saying the the defense’s attempt to make him out to be a liar because of his criminal history didn’t make sense.

“Your client is charged with murder,” the inmate said. “He’s an even bigger liar.”

Hensley implied that the inmate was lying to try and get out of jail, and that the inmate told officers he knew information about two other bodies in Virginia. The inmate said that the information on the bodies is based on what Curtis told him about what he had done in the past.

Hensley asked again if the inmate had been offered any type of deal or leniency in exchange for his testimony against Curtis.

“I haven’t even been given witness protection,” the inmate responded. “The whole jail’s trying to kill me.”