Double Homicide Trial Looks To Move Forward

The double homicide case against Terri Lynn Storer could go to trial in 2022.

In November 2019, emergency responders arrived on the scene of a shooting near the Greenbrier County and Nicholas County line on Coleman Road [in] Williamsburg.

“Through investigation, it was discovered Jeremiah Thomas, 33, Jennifer Thomas, 34, had allegedly gotten into an argument over a hunting lease with Randy Barnhart, 45, and Terri Storer, 45,” reads an initial press release from the West Virginia State Police. “During this incident Jeremiah Thomas and Jennifer Thomas were fatally wounded.”

Greenbrier County Prosecutor Patrick Via later explained to The West Virginia Daily News shortly after that the dispute consisted mainly of who should have access to a piece of land often used for hunting. In August 2020, Storer was indicted on two counts of murder and Barnhart was indicted on two counts of accessory after the fact to murder.

During the Monday hearing, no trial date was set, but both Storer and Barnhart agreed to waive their speed trial rights for the current term of court into February 2022 term. The defense, pointing to the need to schedule witnesses, was granted time to coordinate with them.

Greenbrier County Prosecutor Patrick Via explained where the case currently stood.

“I believe that there are, at this time, two matters that remain outstanding,” said Via. “One, as the court may recall, was a motion by defense counsel in an effort to obtain a search warrant for certain Facebook records of one or more of the deceased individuals. Our first effort in supplying that search warrant, by way of an endorsement by this court, to Facebook was unsuccessful. I consulted with counsel and it’s our intention to try to formulate some language that will be more amenable to Facebook and an effort to continue to try to secure those records. It’s not a disputed issue. It’s just an issue [for] parties to further address in order to accomplish the goal. … I don’t think this is a matter that will cause unnecessary delay, but it is a matter that counsels working together to try to resolve.”

On November 10, a hearing in the case was held, considering a number of motions. Richardson pointed to the discussion in that hearing.

“I think there may be an order from a prior hearing that has yet to be submitted to me,” Richardson noted. “We had a hearing on the issue concerning the admissibility, [a] through analysis. I don’t think we’ve yet had an order entered.”

“I’ll check on that judge,” Via replied. “I drafted that order, but perhaps it did not make it to your computer screen.”

Via then continued to the next remaining issue. Previously, a prosecution subpoena to Gmail for emails relating to the incident swept up communications between one defendant and her attorney, violating attorney client privilege. The defense moved to have these communications removed from potentially admissible evidence, something Via conceded out of hand, but the motion will be further considered to be sure no admissible evidence is thrown out.

“The second matter that remains pending, as far as I can tell, is a previous motion filed by the defense with respect to a suppression request of certain email correspondence that was a part of a search warrant to Google for, I believe, one or both of the defendants email accounts. There has been some concern about some privileged or otherwise inadmissible, not just inadmissible, but undiscoverable by the state information that may have transacted as part of the search. … I believe that that motion would have to be heard by the court.”

Upon inquiry, the defense was in the air about any agreement with the state.

“We probably need a little bit of time, I think it’s headed to hearing your honor,” Brandon Johnson, Storer’s defense attorney. “But Mr. Via has always been really good to work with. There’s that possibility. But I think his proposal, the way to proceed, we agree with that.

“We’ll make every attempt, of course, to sit down with and do it, we just find that the more the more we look at this, sort of the deeper it gets,” said Greg Campbell, Barnhart’s defense attorney. “We’ll make every attempt to try to get it resolved, but I’m not certain that’s where this is going.”

A hearing was scheduled in order to consider the inadmissible evidence.

Despite a previous motion to have the trial undertaken with no COVID-19 precautions from the defense, Richardson looks to set a pretrial hearing to assess the situation before moving to trial and, potentially, causing a super-spreader event.

“What I’d also like to do is, perhaps two weeks before the trial is to begin, … set a final pretrial hearing to review any logistical arrangements that we need to make to assess the current COVID situation, and to make sure that we have everything on track for transportation for a jury view [of the scene of the incident].”

Via also noted the jury could be traveling during the trial, stating “the court has granted a request for a jury view. I realized as we get closer to trial, we may have to work out the logistics of that, but we do anticipate the jury making the trip up to the scene of the events.”

Both the defense and prosecution estimated the trial would require four days, maybe an entire week, with two days set the week before for jury selection.

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