State Supreme Court rejects appeal of Shute murder convictions

by Kate Shunney

The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals on Monday rejected an appeal by Erick Shute of his conviction in July 2018 for three counts of murder and several other felonies in Morgan County. Justices also denied Shute’s argument that the Morgan County Circuit Court and Circuit Judge Steven Redding erred in sentencing him to consecutive life sentences without mercy for the 2016 crimes.

Shute was convicted by a Morgan County jury for shooting and killing three men in the Valley High Timber Farms subdivision west of Great Cacapon on June 13, 2016, and of attempting to kill a fourth man who was able to flee.

During a three-day trial at the Morgan County Courthouse, more than a dozen people testified to the circumstances around the killings. Shute had targeted the four men who were checking on a neighboring property. None of the men were armed at the time of the shootings or had attempted to come onto the property where Shute lived in a compound of trailers.

Following the shootings, Shute fled Morgan County. He was apprehended that evening in Pennsylvania.

In his appeal of the 2018 conviction and sentencing, Shute argued that there was “insufficient evidence presented at trial to convict him of first-degree murder” and that instructions to the jury were in error. He also argued that the court should have reconsidered his sentencing to consecutive life sentences without possibility of parole.

Justices rejected all of Shute’s arguments in a February 24 Memorandum Decision, affirming Circuit Judge Redding’s sentencing.