Trial date moved up in murder of West Virginia teen

December 3, 2013
Skylar Neese

A new trial date has been set for a teenager charged in the stabbing death of her friend, 16-year old honors student Skylar Neese of Star City, W.Va. The trial of Sheila Eddy, 18, of Morgantown, was moved up from Feb. 11 to Jan. 28 by Circuit Court Judge Russell Clawges.

Eddy and a second teen, Rachel Shoaf, 18, are alleged to have taken Neese to a remote location in Wayne Township, Greene County, July 6, 2012, where she was stabbed to death. Her body was located Jan. 16, when Shoaf struck a plea deal and told police where Neese could be found. Shoaf did not give a motive for the stabbing except she and Eddy no longer wanted to be friends with Neese.

For a possible reduced sentence, Shoaf agreed to cooperate fully in the criminal investigation into Neese’s death and to testify in court if necessary. As part of that agreement, Shoaf cannot challenge the validity of her conviction by direct appeal in federal or state court, or in any legal proceeding.

She pleaded guilty May 1 in adult court to second-degree murder. Monongalia County Prosecuting Attorney Marcia Ashdown recommended a prison sentence of 20 years for Shoaf. However, Clawges has discretion in sentencing and could give her as much as 40 years in prison.

The jurisdiction of the case remains in the West Virginia Court system, despite the death taking place in Pennsylvania.

The state contended that Neese was lured by false representation or deceit, to accompany Shoaf and Eddy, across the state border to follow through with their alleged plan to kill her.

Eddy pleaded not guilty Sept. 17 to charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

Her attorney, Michael Benninger, filed several motions on her behalf, including a request for change of venue and to have the Shoaf’s statements thrown out.

Benninger contended that Shoaf was “suffering from a diagnosed mental illness at the time she made incriminating statements” concerning herself and Eddy.

Eddy faces a term of life imprisonment if found guilty of first-degree murder. She has remained in police custody since her arrest.

Pre-trial motions in the case against Eddy are scheduled for Jan. 22.

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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