Jury pool too small to start trial

ELKINS – The trial of an Elkins man charged with multiple counts of sexual assault – which was scheduled to start this week – was continued to February after Randolph County Circuit Court officials were unable to select a jury Monday.

The three-day trial of Derek Shifflett, 31, was scheduled to begin on Wednesday; however, only half of the expected jury pool appeared in court for jury selection Monday morning. Officials cited the extreme winter weather as the main reason for lack of attendance.

Jury selection has been rescheduled for Feb. 18 and the trial has been set for Feb. 19-21.

“The state was prepared to proceed with jury selection and trial as scheduled,” Randolph County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Parker said in a statement to The Inter-Mountain. “Unfortunately, however, we did not have enough jurors appear to attempt jury selection today. The state looks forward to presenting its case on the newly scheduled dates.”

According to state code, a jury in a criminal case must be selected from a panel of 20 impartial jurors. The prosecution is permitted to strike two jurors from that pool, and the defense is allotted six strikes.

Shifflett was indicted in February 2013 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 Jan. 2, Parker moved to dismiss 66 of the 150 counts against Shifflett, “based on information that (the State) had obtained in preparation for the case.”

Shifflett, who is being held on a $360,000 cash-only bond, has been incarcerated in the Tygart Valley Regional Jail since Oct. 2, 2012, according to the jail’s website.

Also on Monday:

  • Jared Iseli, 20, of Beverly, waived his preliminary hearing in Randolph County Magistrate Court on sexual assault charges. His case will now be bound over to Circuit Court to be heard before a grand jury.

Iseli was charged with two counts of first degree sexual assault of an 11-year-old girl last month. According to the criminal complaint, Iseli allegedly had sex with the girl on two separate occasions.

Iseli is being held in Tygart Valley Regional Jail on a $150,000 cash or property bond.

Contact Chad Clem by email at cclem@theintermountain.com.