Murder charge, other counts against Scott dismissed

Published 9:28 am Saturday, November 15, 2014

The district attorney general’s office today moved for a dismissal of the first-degree murder charges against Jeffrey Scott Whitehead in the June 26, 2012, killing of Glenn Shell and Joyce Brock in Roan Mountain.
Whitehead also had charges of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, tampering with evidence and aggravated arson. All charges were dismissed, but they were dismissed without prejudice, which would allow the state to pursue future charges if further evidence develops.
Charges still remain for Jonathan Scott Shell and Tyler Daniel Shell. Each had reportedly given statements implicating Whitehead in the crimes.
The reason for dismissal is the legal requirements of corroborating the testimony of co-participants in the crime.
“After charges were placed against Whitehead, the investigation continued and as we further developed the evidence, our office has concluded that we do not have the necessary corroboration of the Shells’ statements to survive a motion for directed verdict if we were to try the case against Whitehead,” said Assistant District Attorney General Dennis Brooks. “This isn’t an issue of whether we believe the Shells’ stories or not. The law simply provides greater protection against an accused when the testimony is coming from someone who was present and participated to any extent in the crime.”
“We had initially felt we had the needed corroboration, but as we further developed the stories from the Shells after the charges were placed, we simply do not,” Brooks continued. “We are always taught that as prosecutors, we have an ethical duty to not only pursue justice on behalf of the victims of crime, but we also have a duty to be fair to the accused and not try them for crimes when we are convinced we cannot prevail under the law.”
Brooks added that if the case went to trial and had failed, double jeopardy would have applied and Whitehead could not have been tried again. By moving for dismissal, charges can be filed again if new evidence arises.

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