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Trial begins in W.Va. murder case

December 02, 1997

Trial begins in W.Va. murder case

By DON AINES

Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The blood of Jennifer Folmar and one of the men accused of killing her was found on the same jacket, a federal prosecutor said in his opening statement Monday in the trial of Eric M. Turner and Purnell J. Sellers.

The two Hagerstown men are on trial in U.S. District Court on charges that include the Oct. 24, 1996 murder of the 23-year-old Bunker Hill, W.Va., woman in the furtherance of a continuing criminal enterprise.

Folmar was found wounded that night in her car on German Street in Shepherdstown, W.Va. She died early the next day from three gunshot wounds to the head and 11 stab wounds to her neck and body.

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McWilliams told the nine-man, three-woman jury that a white leather coat found near the murder scene had Folmar's blood under the cuff of the right sleeve. McWilliams said Turner had bled from a dog bite earlier that day and his blood was also found on the jacket.

The prosecutor said the blood evidence was identified by DNA testing. Folmar's blood was also found on a .25-caliber pistol found nearby, a gun he claims witnesses will say Sellers gave Turner before the shooting.

According to McWilliams, Turner or Sellers returned to Folmar's car at least three times. The first time she was shot in the left jaw, then she was repeatedly stabbed and finally, two rounds were fired into her temple, he said.

Stephen Herndon, Turner's attorney, told the jurors another witness will say the coat was worn by another man. He and Sellers' attorney Harry Smith said almost all of the witnesses to the shooting were related by blood, marriage or long-standing relationships.

"These are people the government paid for their testimony," Herndon said in his opening statement.

According to McWilliams, Turner and Sellers operated a large-scale cocaine operation and murdered Folmar "because they mistakenly believed she was working for the police."

On the day she was shot, McWilliams said Folmar went to a man's home to buy drugs and "witnessed an event that literally caused her to lose her life." McWilliams alleged Turner sold the man cocaine while Folmar was in the house.

Late that night Folmar drove her white Camaro to Ray and German streets and created a commotion by spinning her tires. He said people were yelling "police" and "5-0," McWilliams said.

The prosecutor claimed Turner was seen wearing a surgical glove and told one witness, "you can get away with murder if you wear gloves."

McWilliams said two witnesses saw Sellers give the gun to Turner. He allegedly went to the car and shot twice, apparently missing her once.

McWilliams claimed Turner asked Sellers for a knife and went back to the car. Later, it was he or Sellers that went back again and shot her two more times, he said.

At a pre-trial conference Thursday, Herndon said he will introduce evidence that as many as five other men at the scene may have committed the murder.

Folmar's mother, Ruby LaBelle, two brothers and a sister were in court.

"What they're trying to do is confuse everyone. The defense wants to create complete chaos," Folmar's brother John Staubs said.

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