Incest case set for trial in two weeks
The case of an Elkins man charged with 50 counts of incest will go to trial this month.
Judge Jaymie Godwin Wilfong on Friday denied a prosecution motion for continuance in the case of Derek Shifflett, 30, ruling that Shifflett will be tried by jury as scheduled Sept. 18-19 in Randolph County Circuit Court.
In February, Shifflett was indicted on 50 counts of incest, a felony; 50 counts of first-degree sexual assault, a felony; and 50 counts of sexual abuse by a parent, guardian or custodian, a felony. The indictment alleges Shifflett had sexual intercourse with a family member under the age of 12 on numerous occasions between Oct. 1, 2011, and Sept. 30, 2012.
On Friday, Randolph County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Parker requested the continuance, saying there were “significant legal issues” and “significant evidence issues that need to be ironed out” prior to jury selection. Those issues include motions to suppress witnesses and a motion to suppress a statement made by the mother of the alleged victim.
“I don’t make this motion (for continuance) lightly, but I just think there are too many outstanding issues,” Parker said.
Shifflett, who is being held on a $360,000 cash-only bond, has been incarcerated in the Tygart Valley Regional Jail for nearly a year, his attorney, Christopher Cooper, told the court.
“My client has maintained his innocence from the beginning, and he has sat in jail for almost a year,” Cooper said. “While these are some egregious charges, until he is convicted, my client sits here an innocent man.”
Should a continuance be granted, Cooper said he would ask that Shifflett’s bond be reduced and he be placed on home confinement.
Heather Weese, the guardian ad litem in the case, said the alleged victim was “fearful” of Shifflett and particularly “fearful of retaliation,” should he be released on bond.
Wilfong said she wanted to protect Shifflett’s right to a speedy trial as well as the child’s safety.
“I’m concerned about him being incarcerated for a year, and I’m also concerned about the locale of the child,” she said.
The judge set a hearing on outstanding motions for 10 a.m. Sept. 13 and said the trial would be conducted on Sept. 18-19 as planned.
Also in Circuit Court Friday, Wilfong granted a defense motion for a mental status evaluation in the case of Robin Georgetta Moore, 34, of Belington. Moore is accused of videotaping her juvenile daughter engaging in sex acts with an adult male, among other sex-related charges.
Moore’s attorney, Timothy Prentice, informed Wilfong that although his client is “not openly psychotic,” he believes she is “unable to comprehend court proceedings.”
“It’s more of a situation in which she’s not able to assist me in preparing a defense, and I’m concerned about her mental health,” Prentice said. “I’m convinced she’s not being dilatory; she would like to help.”
Wilfong granted the motion, ordering that psychologist Dr. Robert Rush perform a competency evaluation on Moore by the end of September.
In February, Moore was indicted on 22 counts of a parent, guardian or custodian allowing sexual abuse, a felony; four counts of sexual abuse by a parent, guardian or custodian, a felony; four counts of employment or use of a minor to produce obscene matter, a felony; three counts of use of minors in filming sexually explicit conduct, a felony; three counts of display of obscene material to a minor, a felony; one count of exhibiting of material depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct, a felony; one count of displaying material by a parent, guardian or custodian depicting a child engaged in sexually explicit conduct, a felony; four counts of possession of material depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct, a felony; and four counts of possession of material by a parent, guardian or custodian depicting a child engaged in sexually explicit conduct, a felony.
Moore was also charged with three misdemeanor counts of sexual abuse in the third degree.