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Woman testifies against ex-boyfriend in W.Va. rape-slaying case

June 29, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - Stefanie Brennan said she thought her ex-boyfriend was all talk when he allegedly admitted to taking part in the May 27 rape and killing of 41-year-old Tina Marie Starcher of Martinsburg.

"He was saying it in a kind of joking-serious fashion," said Brennan, one of three witnesses to testify Thursday in a preliminary hearing for Anthony C. Juntilla in Berkeley County Magistrate Court.

"That's how he always talked. I didn't think it was true," Brennan told Prosecuting Attorney Pamela J. Games-Neely under direct examination.

After hearing about an hour of testimony from Brennan, State Police Trooper J.J. Bowman and Berkeley County Medical Examiner David W. Brining, Magistrate JoAnn Overington found probable cause to allow the state to continue its prosecution of the 37-year-old Juntilla in circuit court.

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The state's case against Juntilla, of 86 Tecumseh Trail in The Woods subdivision, is on track to be presented to a grand jury for indictment.

Juntilla's alleged accomplice in Starcher's death on Thursday waived his right to a speedy preliminary hearing, essentially giving his court-appointed attorney, S. Andrew Arnold, more time to prepare.

A new hearing date for Fred Dwayne Douty II, 28, of 1301 Texas St. in Martinsburg, was not immediately set by Overington. Douty also has been charged with first-degree murder.

Brining testified that Starcher's death appeared to be a homicide after initial observations of her body in a power line right-of-way off Dam #4 Road near the Jefferson County-Berkeley County line and Rockymarsh Run.

Brining said Thursday that he could not detect any signs of trauma because of the body's decomposition.

Bowman said he learned through his investigation that Starcher's throat was cut twice in the basement of Juntilla's home near Hedgesville, W.Va.

Brennan testified Thursday that Juntilla told her "in detail" what he had done with Douty, that he raped and stabbed Starcher and dumped her body after first telling the victim the two men wanted to get high.

Brennan said she was in a 21-day residential drug rehabilitation program at the time of Starcher's death. She had been staying at the home with Juntilla, along with one of his brothers and father.

Brennan said Juntilla told her in a telephone conversation on the afternoon of May 27 or 28 that he had done something bad and that he was with a white guy, later identified as Douty, when it happened, but didn't specify what.

Brennan said he only hinted, telling her to "think Hannibal Lecter and Goodfellas." Lecter is a fictional character first introduced in 1981 as a psychiatrist and cannibalistic serial killer in the thriller novel "Red Dragon" and "Goodfellas" is an acclaimed mob film released in 1990. On June 5, the day she completed her drug program, Brennan said Juntilla was more specific about what he did, pointing out an indentation on the basement wall and the couch, that police later confirmed was stained with blood.

Brennan said she didn't look closely, at first.

"He told me he stuffed her body in the tote (a blue plastic storage container), took her out to Dam #4 and dumped her," Brennan testified.

The same day she completed the rehabilitation program, Brennan said she drove Juntilla to Virginia because Martinsburg Police Department Detective Sgt. G.B. Swartwood had contacted the home, asking to talk to him about an alleged threat Juntilla made at the Berkeley County Judicial Center.

Juntilla was arraigned last week on a felony count of threatening to cause injury to a public employee with the intent to retaliate against the individual for performance or nonperformance of an official duty. In court Thursday, he waived his right to a preliminary hearing on that charge.

"I tried to talk him into going to speak with police and he would not do it," said Brennan, who indicated her relationship with Juntilla ended that day after about a year together.

Brennan, 24, said she and Juntilla had a daughter together.

At the Tecumseh Trail residence, Bowman said police found the blue container supposedly used to discard Starcher's body, hair and blood evidence, and a freshly painted area.

The kitchen knife supposedly used to kill Starcher after she was unconscious was not recovered, but Bowman said it might have been discarded, along with clothing, into a Dumpster at The Woods Resort near the home.

Bowman said police have obtained video evidence that shows Douty and Juntilla together at a Shell gas station near the GM Access Road the night of Starcher's death.

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