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Mother says son innocent in Musselwhite murder

By Shavonne Potts
spotts@salisburypost.com
Linda Blymyer says her son Bradley, who was convicted of first-degree murder a week ago, couldn’t have done it because he was home with her that night.
Bradley Blymyer, 25, was found guilty Tuesday of killing Jimmie Edgar Musselwhite. In November 2006, Musselwhite, 62, was found in his Verlen Drive home with his throat cut. He had been beaten with a baseball bat and stabbed nine times with a knife.
The trial lasted seven days and Blymyer was sentenced to life in prison without parole. His best friend, Joshua Shaffer, 25, testified against him in exchange for a reduced sentence. Shaffer agreed to a plea bargain with a second-degree murder charge. He has yet to be sentenced.
Linda Blymyer said she would have testified in court but her two other sons urged her not to do so. She said her sons were fearful of how she would be questioned by Rowan District Attorney Bill Kenerly. Bradley Blymyer’s attorney, Ken Darty, never said he would or would not put her on the stand, she said.
Linda Blymyer still contends, as her son’s attorney tried to prove, Shaffer killed Musselwhite by himself.
In a round of questioning by the Statesville attorney, Shaffer said he and Bradley committed all of the break-ins together as well as the murder.
Linda Blymyer disagrees, saying during the break-in at the home of Shaffer’s stepfather, David Wayne Wright, her son was with his girlfriend, Melissa Freeze.
Shaffer testified in court that the two of them went to his stepfather’s home and stole a safe, laptop computer and other items. The safe was found in the Blymyer’s backyard.
“I think Josh put the safe in our backyard. He had to get rid of it,” she said.
Linda Blymyer also believes her son was not present during the robbery that was supposed to take place at Musselwhite’s house on Halloween. Shaffer said Melissa Freeze drove them to the Verlen Drive home and Shaffer confirmed he “chickened out.”
Freeze corroborated the testimony saying she drove the car with the two of them inside that night.
Linda Blymyer said her son, Freeze and another couple went on a double date to the movies that night.
Freeze also said Bradley was not a violent person.
Linda Blymyer also said by Shaffer’s own testimony it seemed as though there could have only been one person in Musselwhite’s home.
“He says Brad never said anything. He goes in and doesn’t get a Coke. There was only one Coke bottle left out there. He’s like the invisible man,” she said.
Investigators testified there was a single can of cola left on Musselwhite’s bar area. Shaffer said he was the only one offered a cola and said his friend did not talk the entire time they were in Musselwhite’s home.
“It seems to me that Josh Shaffer simply followed Mr. Musselwhite home that day and made sure Mr. Musselwhite wouldn’t need those pills anymore,” Linda said.
She also believes her son never carried a knife, which contradicts Shaffer’s testimony. Shaffer said the knife used to stab and slash Musselwhite’s throat belonged to his friend.
That’s untrue, Linda Blymyer says.
Her son was only guilty of wanting to help a friend.
“When Josh needed something, he tried to help him,” Linda Blymyer said.
Even when she and her husband asked Josh not to return to their home, Bradley still snuck his friend inside.
Linda Blymyer said she was warned by Darty not to be in court during the verdict because, “if I showed any emotion whatsoever, they would have taken me away with my son.”
“My husband said, ‘Let’s go,'” she said.Linda Blymyer said she expected to take her son home that day.
“My son was simply stunned by the verdict, as only an innocent young man would be,” she said.
She definitely believed Darty did his best to prove her son innocent. Blymyer gave notice he’d appeal the conviction on the last day of trial.
Linda Blymyer said they intend to base their appeal on misconduct by Kenerly.
When asked about Blymyer’s claim, the district attorney had no comment. He only spoke of Blymyer’s previous conviction when he was a teen. Blymyer was convicted of assault with a dangerous weapon when he threw a plastic soda bottle out of a school bus and a truck driver was struck by flying glass. Blymyer was 16 at the time.
“He pleaded guilty in 2000,” Kenerly said.
Blymyer received probation for that offense.

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