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Woman testifies about receiving letters from inmate

August 22, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The letters that Shacole Rolle received from the man accused in the shooting death of Donald L. "Dee" Redman in 2005 were supposed to be packed away in her foster mother's garage.

A shaken Rolle was unable to repeat on Monday in Berkeley County Circuit Court what the letters allegedly requested her to do to witnesses who are expected to testify in the murder trial for John J. Grant.

Grant, 22, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Redman, 29, who was shot in the head at a North Third Street residence in Martinsburg on the morning of Oct. 27, 2005.

On the witness stand in an evidentiary hearing on Monday, the 19-year-old mother of two cried when asked about the content of the letters. Police have alleged they include the names and addresses of two witnesses and statements "I want them missing," "I want them in a coma" and "They can't make it to court you dig."

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Rolle testified on Monday that she received them last year from Grant. They surfaced in July 2007 when authorities discovered Rolle went to see her friend at Eastern Regional Jail, where he's being held without bond pending the outcome of the trial slated to begin Nov. 27.

An attempt by police to find Rolle eventually led them to her foster mother's house north of Martinsburg. Rolle's former guardian told police she found a letter written by an individual named "Butta," after her foster child moved out in February, Martinsburg Police Department Detective G.B. Swartwood testified on Monday. A total of four letters among several recovered at the home appeared to be of most interest to Prosecuting Attorney Pamela J. Games-Neely, who introduced them as state's evidence for hearing.

Earlier this month, Grant was arraigned on two counts of retaliation of witnesses and two counts of intimidation of witnesses as a result of the discovery of the letters.

Games-Neely has said she hoped to use the material in the state's case against Grant. At Monday's hearing, 23rd Judicial Circuit judge Gray Silver III directed Games-Neely and defense attorney B. Craig Manford to submit written legal arguments in advance of a status hearing scheduled for next month.

Rolle testified that her relationship with the accused was never romantic. She readily acknowledged she used to sell marijuana to the New York City man "a long time ago."

"He was a nice person," Rolle said. "I just wanted to go visit him."

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