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Attorney: DNA in murder trial found on latex glove at crime scene

By Shavonne Potts
spotts@salisburypost.com
DNA that authorities say linked a former Cleveland resident to a 2006 murder came from a latex glove stuck to duct tape used to bind the victim, the defendant’s attorney said Monday in Rowan County Superior Court.
But Statesville lawyer Ken Darty asked the court to bar prosecutors from telling a jury about Paul Bradley Blymyer’s conviction at 16 years old that provided the DNA sample investigators matched to the crime scene evidence.
Jury selection began Monday in Blymyer’s first-degree murder trial in the beating death of 62-year-old Jimmie Edgar Musselwhite. If convicted, he faces life in prison. Also charged with felony breaking and entering and felony larceny after breaking and entering, he has pleaded not guilty.
Blymyer, now 25, is one of two men charged with killing Musselwhite, who was found dead in November 2006 in his Verlen Drive mobile home off Old Concord Road.
Joshua Lee Shaffer is awaiting trial, and Rowan District Attorney Bill Kenerly revealed to potential jurors Monday afternoon that Shaffer will testify against Blymyer. In return, a first-degree murder charge against Shaffer will be reduced and he will plead guilty to second-degree murder.
Kenerly asked jurors if they could listen to Shaffer and not hold against him that he’s accepted a plea agreement.
He said the agreement does not outline sentence terms. The length of Shaffer’s sentence will be determined by Senior Resident Superior Court Judge John Holshouser Jr., who is presiding over Blymyer’s trial.
Other witnesses who could be called to testify during the trial include Musselwhite’s daughter, Sherry Ritter, Salisbury attorney James Davis, State Bureau of Investigation crime lab technicians, medical examiner Dr. Thomas Owens, detectives and other investigators with the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office.
Musselwhite was discovered bound and beaten to death in his mobile home on Nov. 16, 2006.
In early 2007, Rowan County Sheriff George Wilhelm said a DNA sample taken from the crime scene linked Blymyer to the murder. The DNA sample was collected by investigators with the Sheriff’s Office, who turned it over to technicians with the SBI.
Authorities say they matched that to a sample DNA sample taken from Blymyer after he was convicted on a 2000 charge of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury
Then 16, he threw an almost full 20-ounce drink bottle from a school bus window. The bottle struck the windshield of a tractor-trailer going in the opposite direction. The truck’s driver had more than 30 cuts to his face, arms and hands.
Blymyer received 90 days on supervised probation.
Kenerly said the murder of Musselwhite occurred around Nov. 16, 2006, but prosecutors noted a possibility that Musselwhite had been dead for at least five days before being discovered.
Ronnie Gaultney, a friend of Musselwhite, and his girlfriend, Kathy McBride, said they’d last seen Musselwhite the Sunday before McBride discovered his body.
The couple said Musselwhite left a gathering on Sunday complaining of pain. He’d had heart surgery a year before his death and had other health problems.
Musselwhite lived alone in his mobile home. McBride went to check on him when no one had heard from him and found him tied to a chair, beaten, with a ball bat beside him.
Authorities have never confirmed how Musselwhite died.
Blymyer was arrested in Kentucky about four months after the murder. He has been in the Rowan County jail since being returned to North Carolina in March 2007.
Jury selection continues today at 9:30 a.m.

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