Murder victim's friend contradicts co-defendant
Says Musselwhite didn’t know accused killerBy Shavonne Potts
Jimmie Edgar Musselwhite did not like Joshua Shaffer nor did he know murder defendant Bradley Blymyer, according to Ronnie Gaultney Sr., a good friend of Musselwhite.
Gaultney’s Monday testimony contradicted that of Shaffer, who is also charged with Musselwhite’s death.
Gaultney testified in the murder trial of Blymyer, 25, who is accused of beating and stabbing Musselwhite in 2006. Shaffer testified against his longtime friend last week saying Blymyer was responsible for the 62-year-old Musselwhite’s death.
The charge against Shaffer was reduced as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors.
Musselwhite was beaten in the head with a baseball bat he kept for protection, stabbed nine times and his throat was cut. He was found Nov. 16, 2006, bound with duct tape.
It was Shaffer who introduced Blymyer to Musselwhite the day of his death, according to testimony. Before that, Musselwhite apparently had only seen Blymyer waiting in the car for Shaffer when he bought pills from the victim.
Previous witnesses, including Musselwhite’s daughter, Sherry Ritter, said Musselwhite sold his pills to make ends meet.
Shaffer previously testified he and Musselwhite argued over the price of some pills, but he said there was no animosity toward Musselwhite. He tried to buy pills from Musselwhite sometime before his murder. They argued, but Shaffer bought the pills anyway.
Gaultney Sr. told a different story. He said his friend Musselwhite did not like Shaffer.
In fact, Gaultney testified, one day he and Musselwhite were going fishing, and when Musselwhite discovered Shaffer was going, he backed out of the trip.
He said Shaffer tried to buy pills from Musselwhite at Gaultney’s home.
Gaultney said to his knowledge his friend did not sell his pills to Shaffer the day they argued.
“Jim wouldn’t come off his pills,” Gaultney said.
He assumed his friend still hadn’t sold any pills when Musselwhite left to go to his own home.
“That was the last time I saw Josh or Jim,” Gaultney said.
It was Gaultney who introduced Shaffer to Musselwhite. The two friends would go fishing or watch racing at Gaultney’s home.
Shaffer sometimes performed odd jobs at Gaultney’s home to earn money for cigarettes and gas, Gaultney said.
Shaffer also hung out at Gaultney’s home and was friends with Ronnie Gaultney Jr., who was a co-worker at the time.
Gaultney also said he never sold Shaffer any of his pills.
Shaffer said in previous testimony he bought pills from not only Musselwhite but also Ronnie Gaultney Sr.
Gaultney said he didn’t sell his pills because “I need mine.” Gaultney also told jurors he was able to pay his bills and didn’t have to supplement his income by selling his medications.
He was on hydrocodone and a few other medications when he was diagnosed with cancer. He also has heart disease, Gaultney said. He now does not have to take as many pills since his cancer is in remission.
Gaultney Sr. said he didn’t know Blymyer and had never seen him. However, Shaffer testified that Blymyer often went with him when he bought pills. Shaffer added his friend stayed in the car.
Ronnie Gaultney Jr. testified that he saw Blymyer come to his house and to his father’s house a couple of times but that he stayed in the car.
On one occasion, Blymyer accompanied Shaffer to look at some dogs Gaultney Jr. had been breeding.
Shaffer returned to the stand Monday to testify about a taped video interview done at Rowan District Attorney Bill Kenerly’s office prior to the trial.
Ken Darty, Blymer’s attorney, asked Shaffer if he and Blymyer had a conversation about what would happen if Musselwhite would not give up his pills the day he died.
Shaffer said he did not recall such a a discussion.
He said last week there was no conversation; it was understood what would happen if they could not get the pills without force.
Shaffer also said in previous testimony he saw duct tape and a knife in Blymyer’s front hoodie pocket. Also, he said Blymyer was wearing the latex gloves when they entered Musselwhite’s mobile home.
On the video, which was played for jurors Monday, Shaffer said he didn’t see the duct tape or gloves before going into the house.
“Explain the difference,” Darty said.
“I was mistaken,” Shaffer said.
Shaffer corrected his error in court, saying he saw the knife right before they were going into the house.
Also on the tape, Shaffer said one pair of shoes worn the day of the murder were Reebok.
Darty asked Shaffer if he wanted to change his previous statement to mean he was wearing those Reebok shoes.
“I’m not saying I was not wearing Reebok. If I wasn’t, then he must have been,” Shaffer said of Blymyer.
Kenerly read a statement from SBI Special Agent Jennifer Reamy, who is a forensic chemist and trace expert.
Reamy compared the duct tape found on Musselwhite and tape taken from Blymyer’s home, from Shaffer’s car and Ray Ross, who is not connected to this case. Ross is in the county jail for the 2007 murder of Henry Arthur Aldridge in Kannapolis.
Reamy’s findings showed the duct tape found on the victim was not a match to any that was submitted to the lab.
Rowan County Sheriff’s Detective Adam Loflin testied during his interview with Blymyer concerning the break-ins, Blymyer was very quiet and nonconfrontational. The two only discussed the break-ins. There was no discussion about a safe stolen from David Wayne Wright’s home and later discovered in Blymyer’s parents’ backyard. Wright is Shaffer’s stepfather.
Darty asked that the charges against his client be dismissed, which Superior Court Judge John L. Holshouser denied.
The trial resumes today at 9:30 a.m. with closing statements.