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Jury to return Wednesday morning in Berkeley County murder case

August 06, 2013|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthewu@herald-mail.com
  • Joshua L. Stitley and Roy L. Wisotzkey
File photos

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The jury in the trial of a Hagerstown man charged in the May 2011 robbery and homicide of Vickie Clem is expected to resume deliberating his fate Wednesday morning in Berkeley County Circuit Court.

Roy L. Wisotzkey, 35, of Hagerstown faces charges of felony murder, first-degree robbery, conspiracy, burglary, attempted murder, malicious assault and assault during the commission of a felony, according to the indictment.

If found guilty of felony murder, the jury will decide whether Wisotzkey will be sentenced to life in prison with mercy, which would give him the possibility of parole after serving 15 years of the sentence.

In closing arguments Tuesday, Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely pointed to images of Clem’s injuries displayed for the jury as she implored the seven men and five women to find Wisotzkey guilty and give him the maximum sentence.

“Does that appear to be mercy?” Games-Neely asked.

On May 26, 2011, Wisotzkey and Joshua Stitley, 34, of Hancock allegedly beat Clem and her husband, Jack Clem, with a baseball bat and stabbed them in a nighttime robbery at their Falling Waters, W.Va., home.

Stitley’s trial is set for Oct. 22.

Clem’s husband survived the attack and recounted on the witness stand Friday how he barricaded himself in the bathroom after being stabbed in the groin.

Vickie Clem, 57, of Vinca Lane was Stitley’s mother. 

Wisotzkey’s mother sobbed on the witness stand Tuesday while testifying about her son, who she said never had a violent moment in his life.

“This is not his character — it’s not the person I know him to be,” Barbara Thomas said.

The jury was told Tuesday in a statement that was agreed upon by prosecutors and defense attorney Christopher Prezioso that Wisotzkey had no criminal record prior to his arrest for Clem’s murder.

Just prior to his arrest, Wisotzkey lost his job and his girlfriend, and earlier in 2011, was served with a paternity lawsuit, his mother said.

She also said a former girlfriend, who remained friends with her son, died in May 2011.

Thomas said her son entered a rehabilitation program for drug use and overdosed three times, recalling his struggle dating back several years.

From 2007 until early 2011, Thomas said she believed he was doing a lot better.

Thomas testified she didn’t know Stitley’s last name until she heard Prezioso mention it and didn’t know of her son’s apparent friendship with a man who looked like a street person and gave her a “a very eerie feeling.”

In his closing arguments, Wisotzkey’s attorney pointed to Stitley as the perpetrator of the crimes against the Clem family and said the co-defendant brought his “evilness” into the Wisotzkey household.

Prezioso cited instances when Wisotzkey told police he couldn’t remember what happened the night of May 26 and cited intoxication as a defense in his case.

Prezioso also pointed to testimony by a hospital nurse who said Friday that Stitley told her in the hours after his arrest that he hurt his mother and then hung his head in apparent shame.

Regardless, Prezioso said Wisotzkey deserves the possibility of parole if he is convicted of felony murder because he is not a hardened criminal.

Wisotzkey elected not to testify in his own defense.

‘Mercy’ undeserved

Games-Neely countered that the defendant never expressed remorse to authorities.

She also noted that Wisotzkey, in his statement to police, said he didn’t want to be a rat in the case.

“This is not a case that deserves mercy,” said Games-Neely, who concluded her closing arguments by urging the jury to “find justice for Jack and Vickie.” 

Although Stitley was found in possession of cash and other cards belonging to the Clems, and Wisotzkey was only found with $2 in his wallet, Games-Neely said that doesn’t mean Stitley and Wisotzkey were not going to divide the money up later.

Games-Neely also reminded jurors of evidence that Wisotzkey provided the baseball bat and a decorative sword in the planned robbery, which was proof that the defendant knew what was happening.

In explaining the elements needed for a felony murder conviction, Games-Neely told the jury it doesn’t matter who ultimately killed Clem because they were robbing the couple, and she ultimately died in the act of the crime.

Jack Clem testified Friday that he was unable to come to his wife’s aid after Stitley hit him with the baseball bat and then stabbed him with a folding knife in a struggle at their home. Clem said he was able to get the sword away from Wisotzkey.

Clem said he saw the man with Stitley, who he did not know, strike Vickie Clem with the bat after his son  dropped it in their altercation.

The last time Clem saw his wife alive, she was crawling into the master bedroom from the hallway their home.

Clem died from multiple blunt-force and sharp-force injuries to the head and chest after being struck at least nine times in the head and stabbed twice in the chest, according to a now former deputy state medical examiner’s findings.

A black-handled kitchen knife found to have Vickie Clem’s blood on the blade and Wisotzkey’s DNA on the handle was believed to be the sharpest knife in the couple’s house, Jack Clem testified Friday.

The knife was retrieved from the center console of the van that Stitley and Wisotzkey were traveling in on the morning of May 27.

The men were arrested by West Virginia State Police less than 20 minutes after the Clems’ neighbors called 911.

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