Judge nixes suppressing evidence

A new trial date has been set in the case of an Elkins man who has been charged with 50 counts of incest, among other sex-related crimes.

The case of Derek Shifflett, 31, will go to trial Jan. 8-10, 2014, Judge Jaymie Godwin Wilfong said Friday during an evidentiary suppression hearing in Randolph County Circuit Court.

Jury selection was set for 9 a.m. Jan. 7, 2014.

The case had been set to go to trial Wednesday; however, Wilfong declared a mistrial following a marathon 12 1/2-hour jury selection process on Sept. 10. Wilfong called a mistrial after the prosecution and defense counsel in the case each moved to strike one juror due to “inconsistencies … in the responses they (the two jurors) gave to some of the questioning during jury selection,” Randolph County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Parker told The Inter-Mountain earlier this week.

Shifflett was indicted in February 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.

Also on Friday, Wilfong denied a motion filed by Shifflett’s attorney, Christopher Cooper, to suppress a recorded interrogation of Shifflett, which was conducted on Oct. 1, 2012, by Cpl. A.S. Loudin of the West Virginia State Police.

Loudin conducted the interrogation of Shifflett prior to his arrest, and on Friday, the recording was played for the court.

On the recording, Loudin told Shifflett what crimes he was being accused of; that a statement had been secured from the alleged victim; and that Shifflett would not be able to see his children due to the nature of the allegations pending against him.

Cooper made the case that Loudin “used coercion to elicit a statement,” citing a 1963 Supreme Court case, Lynumn v. Illinois, as a precedent. Cooper argued that if Loudin did indeed use coercion, then it is a form of intimidation, and therefore, the recording of the interrogation should be suppressed, or not introduced as evidence during Shifflett’s upcoming trial in Circuit Court.

Parker said that the question came down to “whether the defendant’s will was overborn and whether the statement was a product of rational intellect and free will.” Because Shifflett had the choice to leave at anytime before, during and after the interview, Parker argued he was present at his own volition.

Wilfong ruled that Shifflett’s statements were voluntary because he was routinely told that he could leave; was read his Miranda rights; and never admitted to any of the allegations. Based on her determination that Shifflett was not coerced into making statement, Wilfong denied the motion to suppress the recording.

Shifflett has been accused of engaging in sexual intercourse with a family member under the age of 12 on numerous occasions between Oct. 1, 2011, and Sept. 30, 2012. He is currently being held in the Tygart Valley Regional Jail on a $360,000 cash-only bond.

Contact Chad by email at cclem@theintermountain.com.