WOODSTOCK – The attorney for the man charged in the shooting death of his wife in Basye last year wants his client’s mental state evaluated at the time of the offense.

Larry Johnson Little Jr., 45, of 424 Delores Drive, Basye, appeared in Shenandoah County Circuit Court on Friday via video while incarcerated at Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail in Warren County. Little stands charged with second-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of murder. Authorities accuse him of shooting and killing Melanie Rose Little at the Basye residence.

Retired Judge Dennis L. Hupp granted motions filed by Larry Little’s court-appointed attorney, Public Defender Timothy Coyne, during a hearing. Commonwealth’s Attorney Amanda Wiseley said she did not object to the four motions.

Hupp scheduled Little’s next court appearance for Dec. 4,  by which time Coyne should have received his client’s mental evaluation report.

Coyne filed a motion Sept. 17 that asks the court to appoint a qualified mental health expert to evaluate Little for his mental state at the time of the offense.

“The Defendant asserts that there is probable cause to believe that his mental state will be a significant factor in his defense and that he is financially unable to pay for expert assistance,” the motion states. “The Defendant has a documented history of mental illness.”

The defendant was hospitalized at Winchester Medical Center in March 2019 following a suicide attempt, Coyne states in the motion. Little previously has been prescribed psychotropic medications for a depressive disorder and anxiety, the motion states. At the time of the incident, the defendant was actively engaged in counseling for his mental and emotional issues, according to the motion.

Hupp also granted Coyne’s motion asking the court to hold a hearing on his client’s request for funds to hire an expert to assist in his case without the prosecutor present. Such a hearing allows Coyne to present evidence to the judge showing Little’s need for expert assistance without divulging defense strategies to the prosecutor. Otherwise, Coyne argues in his motion that an adversarial hearing, with both parties present, would require the defense to divulge evidence in Little’s case.

“Obviously, an advance preview of Mr. Little’s case on a critical issue would be of immense benefit to the Commonwealth, and of enormous detriment to Mr. Little,” the motion states.

Hupp also granted Coyne’s motions requiring the prosecutor’s office to provide the commonwealth’s evidence in the case.

Authorities charged Little in the death of 42-year-old Melanie Rose Little after law enforcement officers found her body in the Deloris Road residence on Oct.1, 2019. Authorities have said Melanie Little appeared to have suffered multiple gunshot wounds. Shortly after the incident, Shenandoah County Sheriff Timothy Carter said Melanie Little likely died from gunshot wounds but he cited preliminary autopsy results at the time.

Shenandoah County Circuit Court indicates that the death occurred on Sept. 29, 2019. The suspect turned himself in to authorities in Lewisburg, West Virginia, shortly after the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office obtained a warrant for his arrest on the murder charge. Larry Little was extradited to Shenandoah County. 

Little remains held without bond at the regional jail.

– Contact Alex Bridges at abridges@nvdaily.com