A while ago, this blog discussed the disturbing case where two teenage girls were charged with murder after the death of a high school classmate and former best friend. Recently, one teenage girl, Shelia Eddy, pled guilty to the charge of first-degree murder.
The tragic set of circumstances began back in July 2012, when honors student Skylar Neese disappeared. She had sneaked out of her bedroom window that night to meet Eddy and another high schooler, Rachel Shoaf. When she did not return home the next day, and failed to appear at her job, at first authorities thought that Neese had run away. However, as the details of that night became clearer, they learned that something more disturbing had taken place. Shoaf and Eddy drove Neese 30 miles west of Morgantown, across the border into Green County, Pennsylvania, where they stabbed Neese with kitchen knives and attempted to bury her body. When they were unsuccessful with the latter, they instead placed her in a ditch and covered her body with branches. There it remained for several months until Shoaf finally led police back to the scene.
It was unclear what the motives for murder were, as on the outside, Neese, Shoaf, and Eddy all appeared to be best friends. In fact, Neese’s parents originally refused to believe that they were even involved. The only explanation for their actions comes from Shoaf’s somewhat cryptic statement that she no longer wanted to be friends with Neese. Some have speculated that Neese was aware that Shoaf and Eddy were in a relationship and they were afraid she would reveal their secret.
Although Eddy was set to face trial, her plea of guilty to murder with mercy will likely result in a somewhat lighter sentence — life in prison, but with the possibility of parole in 15 years. Shoaf meanwhile pled guilty to second-degree murder last May and is awaiting sentencing. Had Eddy’s case gone to trial, Shoaf was going to testify against her.
Since Neese’s death, the West Virginia legislature has passed Skylar’s Law, which makes it easier for law enforcement to issue Amber alerts soon after a minor has gone missing.
Plea bargaining is not an uncommon part of criminal law, even in high-profile murder cases such as this. In fact, most criminal cases do not even go to trial because the West Virginia criminal defense attorney and the prosecutor are able to come to an agreement during the pre-trial conference. Usually this involves the criminal defendant agreeing to plea guilty in exchange for a lighter sentence. The drawback, of course, is that the criminal defendant could be innocent and ends up having to serve time for a crime he or she never committed. That is why it is so important for criminal defendants to have experienced criminal defense attorneys who know when it is better to plead guilty and when to fight the charges.
The Wolfe Law Firm has been providing legal services for nearly 25 years. Located in Elkins, West Virginia, the firm provides services in the areas of personal injury, criminal defense, bankruptcy, and mediation. If you are looking for an experienced West Virginia attorney, contact us today.