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Paternity test requested in W.Va. murder case

July 29, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- The body of Tina Marie Starcher, who allegedly was killed by two men in May 2007, was in such a decomposed state when police found it that medical examiners were unable to obtain DNA from it, according to court records.

To determine Starcher's DNA, Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela J. Games-Neely said in a motion filed July 23 with Circuit Clerk Virginia Sine's office that the state chose to have a paternity test conducted.

Starcher's remains were found June 20, 2007, along Dam No. 4 Road near the northeastern Berkeley County community of Scrabble.

Anthony Charles Juntilla, of 86 Tecumseh Trail in Hedgesville, W.Va., and Fred Dwayne Douty II of Martinsburg were charged with her murder.

Douty in June pleaded guilty in circuit court to felony murder in the death of Starcher, who police have said was raped and then stabbed to death at Juntilla's home.

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Juntilla's trial is to begin Sept. 2.

Douty's attorney has said that his client has agreed to testify against Juntilla, who appeared in court Monday for a status hearing.

In her motion to establish paternity, Games-Neely noted that a comparison of the obtained DNA samples appears to link Starcher's family members to a piece of cloth taken from the victim's home. A State Police forensic scientist also concluded that the DNA cloth sample could not be "excluded" as a possible contributor to the mixture of DNA analyzed as part of the murder investigation.

Games-Neely asked 23rd Judicial Circuit judge David H. Sanders to be allowed to replace the phrase "the donor identified on the piece of cloth sample" with Starcher's name during the trial, and that the court recognize Starcher's family members are in fact linked to the victim by DNA analysis, according to her motion.

Sanders did not hear arguments on the motion Monday.

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