Accused takes stand in Greene

January 11, 2013

WAYNESBURG – Closing arguments will begin at 8:30 a.m. Monday in the trial of James David Shriver, 39, of Fairmont, W.Va., charged with burglarizing multiple homes in Greene County beginning in January 2011.

Defense attorney David Russo rested his case after Shriver testified on his own behalf, often contradicting himself during direct and cross-examination.

In a written statement given to Cpl. Andrew Zimmer of the Pennsylvania State Police, Shriver said he would go into the buildings being robbed by Richard Vanpelt, who has pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing, but most of the time he would stay in the vehicle and watch.

In an audiotape, Shriver tells Det. Kevin Alkire of Marion County sheriff’s department he was present at three of the six locations that were burglarized.

Shriver told the jury he got out of the vehicle at a Greensboro residence next to the roller rink at Monview Park. He said he did this to open the hatch of the Ford Explorer he and Vanpelt arrrived in when he saw Vanpelt carrying a bag around the back of the house. This residence was earlier identified as that of Greene County Magisterial District Judge Lee Watson. He would later contradict earlier testimony that he had only exited the vehicle at the Watson residence.

Several times during his testimony, Shriver said the burglary at Watson’s residence occurred in March 2011 despite multiple documents and testimony by Watson that it happened Jan. 6, 2011.

The second residence he testified to having knowledge of was the Kennedy residence in Holbrook. Shriver said this burglary occurred either July 8 or July 9, but the criminal complaint states it took place July 7.

The third location he acknowledged being present at was the Brook’s property in Waynesburg. Shriver said he sat in the vehicle while Vanpelt went inside and came out about five minutes later carrying a bag of jewelry.

When asked why he did not turn Vanpelt in for the burglaries, Shriver said he was afraid he would get into trouble, saying people had got into trouble for things they reported that they did not do.

When asked why he would sign a statement taken by Detective C. L. Phillips of the Marion Sheriff’s Department if he did not agree with it, Shriver said he signed a lot of documents. He then claimed a deputy sheriff bashed his head against a table the evening of his arrest and prior to him signing the document.

Shriver claimed the same officer threatened to arrest his mother and “let her rot in jail.”

When Greene County District Attorney Marjorie Fox asked what officer did this, Shriver initially said it was a Deputy Love who was still sitting in the audience of the courtroom and then said it was a Deputy Beard, not present in the courtroom, claiming he was confused because they look a lot alike. He added he saw Beard’s name on one of the papers and then he knew it was him. Outside of the courtroom, Love, who has a full head of hair, said Deputy Beard is bald and about 30 pounds heavier than he is.

A gun from Watson’s residence retrieved from Shriver’s home was shown to the jur. Shriver explained Vanpelt gave it to him to see if Shriver’s “daddy wanted to buy it.” In an audio recording, Shriver said they rarely took guns because his father had been in trouble for guns in the past.

When Fox questioned Shriver about alleged statements he made to police that he jumped out a window and hid on a bank when police tried to execute a search warrant at his residence, Shriver denied saying that. He said they would have seen him if he was hiding on the bank.

Shriver said he was honest with Zimmer and Alkire when he gave them written and oral statements. In Shriver’s written statement, he told Zimmer he “would go in every once in a while.”

When Fox asked Shriver, “It is your testimony that you did not go into any of the houses,” he said, “I did not.”

Tara Kinsell started her career in journalism with the National Geographic Insider Magazine and the Gaithersburg Gazette Newspaper in Montgomery County, Md. Tara has written and photographed sports, features and news stories for the Herald Standard, Greene County Messenger and Albert Gallatin Weekly. She holds degrees in journalism and graphic design from Waynesburg College, now Waynesburg University, and the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, respectively.

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