Murder trial: DA says suspects sought pills from victim
By Shavonne Potts
Rowan District Attorney Bill Kenerly told jurors Jimmie Edgar Musselwhite was killed in 2006 because he would not sell prescription pills to a man who is on trial for his death.
The prosecutor said Tuesday he believes the victim, who was known to sell his prescription pills, refused to sell to Bradley Paul Blymyer and Joshua Shaffer. The two went to Musselwhite’s home to get pills and when he refused, Kenerly said, he was killed.
Musselwhite was beaten and bound at his Verlen Drive home, near Bostian Heights. He was found by a friend who went to check on him.
Blymyer, 25, is facing first-degree murder charges stemming from Musselwhite’s Nov. 16 death. Shaffer, also 25, accepted a plea agreement and will be tried at a later date on a second-degree murder charge. He will testify against Blymyer.
Kenerly said during his opening argument that Blymyer and Shaffer had known each other since they were kids and spent a lot of time together.
He said Shaffer and Blymyer began using pills, which led the two to break into houses in order to get pills. One of the houses the two broke into belonged to Shaffer’s stepfather, David Wright, Kenerly told jurors. They stole a safe and other items. That safe was later found buried in Blymyer’s backyard.
Blymyer’s attorney, Ken Darty, of Statesville, objected to Kenerly mentioning the house break-ins because it revealed his client had previous offenses. He also contended the information cited in Kenerly’s opening statement was highly prejudicial.
Kenerly disagreed, saying the break-ins would merely corroborate Shaffer’s testimony. The information would also show “part of a chain of planned break-ins that turned into a murder,” he said.
Superior Court Judge John L. Holshouser said he believed the information did not show prejudice and was to establish proof.
Kenerly said that Shaffer and Blymyer had tried to break into Musselwhite’s home sometime before he was killed but were unsuccessful. They returned again and inquired about pills, Kenerly told jurors.
He said that Shaffer told Blymyer, who was wearing green latex gloves, to tie Musselwhite with duct tape and put tape over his mouth.
Before his mouth was covered, Musselwhite told the two he would call the sheriff’s office and they would not get away with anything, the prosecutor said.
Kenerly told jurors they’d hear from Shaffer, who would tell them he hit Musselwhite with a baseball bat the 62-year-old kept in his home. He then hit the man once more and went to the back of the mobile home to look for pills.
While searching for pills he heard Blymyer hit the man again, according to Kenerly. Shaffer and Blymyer took Musselwhite’s wallet, which contained about $80 and two bottles of pills.
“Bradley Blymyer told Josh Shaffer, ‘I’ve torn my glove. I hope they don’t get my fingerprints,'” Kenerly said.
Autopsy reports are expected to reveal Musselwhite was tied with his hands behind his back and found lying on the floor. He was beaten about the head at least five times, stabbed nine times in the neck and his throat was cut.
By the time he was found, his body had begun to decompose. He had been dead at least five days.
During his opening statement, Darty said it was Shaffer who came up with the idea to get the pills from Musselwhite. He told jurors Shaffer would have them believe his client, who didn’t know Musselwhite, would kill him. He said he found it hard to believe Musselwhite would allow Blymyer into his home and think nothing strange of him wearing latex gloves.
“There was blood on the ceiling and in or about the body of Jimmie Musselwhite,” Darty said.
He added investigators searched Blymyer’s red Acura, which was believed to be the car the two drove to Musselwhite’s home.
“There was not one drop of blood in the car,” Darty said.
He said his client never left Cleveland until January 2007, when he left to stay with his brother in Kentucky. However, Darty continued, Shaffer left for Pennsylvania two days after the killing, telling no one about the trip.
Darty reminded jurors the reason Shaffer is not facing first-degree murder was because he was offered a plea agreement.
Musselwhite’s daughter, Sherry Ritter, is expected to testify today when the trial resumes at 9:30 a.m.