Jury selection begins in trial of man charged in Hedgesville woman's slaying

August 26, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Jurors for the trial of a Hedgesville, W.Va., man charged in the May 2007 death of Martinsburg woman will be selected from 70 people to be called for jury duty this week in Berkeley County Circuit Court.

In a pretrial hearing Monday, Anthony Charles Juntilla, 39, was advised by 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge David H. Sanders that he had the right to remain silent and not testify in his trial, which is set to begin Sept. 2.

Juntilla responded "yes, your honor" after each time Sanders asked the defendant if he understood his trial rights.

Juntilla and Fred Dwayne Douty II, 29, of Martinsburg, were indicted in February 2008 on counts of first-degree murder, felony murder, first-degree sexual assault and conspiracy in the death of Tina Marie Starcher, 40.

Police said Starcher was picked up by the men May 27 and taken to Juntilla's home off Tecumseh Trail, where she was forced to have sex with them and then was killed. Starcher's decomposed body was found June 20 along Dam #4 Road and Rockymarsh Run near the community of Scrabble.


In June 2008, Douty entered a guilty plea to felony murder- murder in the first degree as part of a plea agreement that requires him to cooperate with the state's prosecution of Juntilla and to testify in Juntilla's trial.

In exchange, Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely agreed to recommend that Douty be eligible for parole consideration after serving 15 years of a life sentence. Douty's sentencing hearing was delayed until Sept. 15 in an attempt to solidify his agreement to comply with the plea agreement and testify truthfully.

Also expected to testify for the state are forensic scientists from Marshall University, the West Virginia State Police crime lab and investigating troopers, and a Smithsonian Institution forensic anthropologist.

Games-Neely said after the hearing Monday that she expects the trial to last as long as three days.

In addition to Douty's testimony, the state's evidence is expected to include a PowerPoint presentation to help witnesses testify about DNA evidence on a "piece of cloth" recovered by crime scene investigators and its apparent connection to Starcher, and DNA samples taken from Starcher's father and daughter.

Games-Neely and defense attorney B. Craig Manford signed off on an order with Circuit Clerk Virginia M. Sine that ordered the State Police crime lab to release electropherograms, which show a sequence of data produced in DNA analysis.

Games-Neely reiterated Monday that she had not offered a plea deal to Juntilla or his attorney.

After discussing the limited seating capacity of his courtroom with the attorneys, Sanders said he would talk to Judge Gray Silver III about switching chambers for the jury selection.

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