Shifflett guilty on 81 counts

ELKINS – The jury deliberated for 90 minutes before finding an Elkins man guilty of 81 felony charges Friday in Randolph County Circuit Court.

Derek Shifflett, 31, of Elkins, was found guilty on all counts after testifying on his own behalf during the third day of his sexual assault trial.

The jury found Shifflett guilty of 27 counts of first-degree sexual assault, a felony; 27 counts of sexual abuse by a parent, guardian or custodian, a felony; and 27 counts of incest, a felony.

The courtroom was silent as the foreman of the jury read the verdict for each of the counts individually. Shifflett, his family and friends were overcome with emotion at hearing the guilty verdicts.

Police took Shifflett into custody immediately afterward.

Before Shifflett testified Friday, Circuit Court Judge Jaymie Godwin Wilfong explained his right to testify on his own behalf was his choice alone and that no one could force him to testify. Shifflett told her he understood his rights.

Defense attorney John Cooper asked Shifflett about his criminal history, including instances of substance abuse, DUI, burglary and an arrest for battery. Shifflett also admitted he had problems with drinking and substance abuse.

Shifflett told the court he had a good relationship with the victim and denied that he had any sexual relations with her. When Cooper asked him if he spent time alone with the victim, Shifflett said it had happened frequently.

“Then you had access or could have had access to have a sexual relationship with (the victim),” the attorney asked.

“I suppose,” Shifflett said.

“And you are saying that you did not have sexual relations with (the victim) at all,” Cooper said.

“No, I did not,” Shifflett said.

“(The victim’s mother) testified that you said that you were a sick man. Did you ever make that statement, sir?” Cooper asked.

“No, I did not,” Shifflett replied.

Later during his testimony, Shifflett told the jury he “never dreamed of” having a sexual relationship with the victim.

The three-day trial featured testimony from the 11-year-old female victim, the victim’s mother and several members of the Shifflett family.

“I am very pleased with the jury’s verdict in this case,” Randolph County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Parker said in a statement to The Inter-Mountain Friday evening. “My office devoted a substantial amount of time, effort and resources to prosecuting this case, which it obviously deserved. Although I am happy that a guilty verdict was returned, my thoughts remain with the victim, as a conviction does not erase what she had to endure.”

Calls to the offices of Shifflett’s attorneys John Cooper and Chris Cooper were not returned by presstime Friday.

Shifflett’s sentencing date has yet to be scheduled.