2017-05-31 / Front Page

Triple murder trial delayed until October

by Kate Shunney

A long-awaited trial of the man accused of killing three Great Cacapon men last June has been delayed in Morgan County Circuit Court.

During a status hearing on May 24, Judge Laura Faircloth granted a continuance in the felony murder case against Erick Shute, 33, of Great Cacapon. Shute’s trial for the triple murder had been set to begin on June 21. The trial has been continued, and is scheduled to begin on October 30. A status hearing in the case was set for August 22 in Circuit Court. Court documents indicate attorneys are awaiting a psychological evaluation of Shute.

Shute was indicted in January on three counts of murder, wanton endangerment, attempted first degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. All charges relate to the shooting deaths of Jack Douglas, Travis Bartley and Willie Bartley on June 13, 2016 on a property neighboring Shute’s.

Following the fatal shootings, Shute ran from police and was apprehended eight hours later in Pennsylvania. In the hours following the killings, Shute posted comments on social media and called media outlets about his role in the men’s deaths. He has claimed he shot the men in self-defense following previous neighborhood disputes.

Court records show that Morgan County’s Prosecuting Attorney has demanded extensive records from Shute’s yearlong incarceration at the Eastern Regional Jail as he awaits trial. Debra McLaughlin has issued subpoenas for visitor logs from the jail, all incoming and outgoing jail phone calls for Shute and all email messages to and from Shute while he has been at the Eastern Regional Jail.

Court records also show that investigators with the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department secured statements from the owner of the property where the killings took place saying she had given Douglas, one of the victims, permission to do work on her property. She told police she had received phone calls from both Erick Shute and his mother on the day of the killings about Douglas being on her land.

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