Juntilla's ex-girlfriend testifies against him in Martinsburg murder trial

September 03, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- When Stefanie Brennan returned home after completing a 21-day drug rehab program in June 2007 for her addiction to crack cocaine, the strong odor of cleaning supplies in the house didn't seem out of the ordinary, she said.

"He cleaned like that all the time," Brennan said of her then-boyfriend, Anthony C. Juntilla.

She didn't believe that Juntilla and another man, whom she knew as "Fred," raped and killed a woman, then cleaned up the crime scene while she was trying to get sober.

"At the time I got out of rehab, he was joking about it," Brennan testified Tuesday in Berkeley County Circuit Court during Juntilla's trial.

Tina Marie Starcher, 40, allegedly was forced to have sex with Fred D. Douty II and Juntilla before she was killed over the 2007 Memorial Day weekend in the home that Brennan and Juntilla shared with his adoptive father and brother at 86 Tecumseh Trail, west of Hedgesville, W.Va.


Starcher's decomposed body was found among briars and weeds in a power line right-of-way along Dam #4 Road and Rockymarsh Run near Scrabble, W.Va., on June 20, 2007.

Juntilla, 39, and Douty, 30, of Martinsburg, were indicted in February 2008 on counts of first-degree murder, felony murder, first-degree sexual assault and conspiracy.

The six men and six women on the jury are expected to hear testimony from Douty, who entered a guilty plea in June 2008 to felony murder. Douty's full cooperation in the state's prosecution of Juntilla could allow him to be eligible for parole after serving 15 years, according to terms of a binding plea agreement. No plea offers have been extended to Juntilla.

In opening statements Tuesday, defense attorney B. Craig Manford told the jury that Douty and Brennan both have motives to lie about what happened.

"The evidence is going to show you can't believe one word out of his mouth," said Manford, referring to a two-hour interview Douty had with police about Starcher's death.

"Fred just basically lied about everything," Manford added.

Brennan had reason to lie because Juntilla failed to help her regain custody of their child after he failed drug tests while she was attempting to get sober.

Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely conceded in her opening statement that she wasn't going tell them that Douty was "a nice person." Yet, she maintained that his account of what happened would match up with the story Brennan told police.

Brennan testified that she didn't know the co-defendant before his arrest for Starcher's murder or talk with him about what happened.

"Juntilla told me they both raped her," Brennan said.

After meeting in Martinsburg and returning to his house to use crack cocaine, Juntilla allegedly claimed Starcher initially consented to sex. Brennan said Juntilla repeatedly was asked by Starcher to stop having intercourse before he struck her in the head and then knocked her unconscious.

The men then carried Starcher from the basement to the first-floor bathroom, where Juntilla eventually slit her throat, Brennan said she was told.

"He scrubbed the shower and ... where he couldn't get the blood off, he recaulked," Brennan said.

Jurors were shown more than 20 photographs taken by police in the home, including images of apparent blood stains on the couch, shower curtain, bathroom floor mat, indentations on the basement wall, hair on the roller of a vacuum cleaner and two, large blue plastic totes.

Brennan said Juntilla told her that he stuffed Starcher into one of the totes, put in her in the back of his father's car and drove to Dam #4 Road, where they dumped the victim's body.

State Police Trooper D.S. See testified that investigators found the totes stacked in a back portion of the house.

Brennan testified that one of them had contained her personal belongings and another had Juntilla's tools in it in two different areas of the house.

The Herald-Mail Articles