Attorney seeks venue change for accused teen murderer

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The attorney for teenage murder suspect Shelia Eddy filed a series of motions in Monongalia County Circuit Court requesting the indictment be dismissed and for a potential trial to be moved to another county.

Eddy, 18, is accused of stabbing to death her high school friend Skylar Neese last year. Eddy has pleaded not guilty.

A second suspect, Rachel Shoaf, already pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and is expected to testify against Eddy.

One motion suggests that Eddy’s attorney, Michael Benninger, is preparing to question the credibility of the state’s primary witness. Benninger argues in one of his filings that Shoaf was “suffering from a diagnosed mental illness at the time she made incriminating statements” concerning herself and Eddy.

Neese disappeared from her Star City home in July 2012. Her body was found nine months later about 30 miles away, just across the Pennsylvania state line. The motive for the killing has still not been released.

Eddy’s change-of-venue motion argues that she “cannot obtain a fair and impartial trial in Monongalia County due to the existence of substantial publicity and prejudice presently existing against the defendant.”

Other filings include:

♦ A motion for the state to provide all statements and evidence provided by Shoaf to the police, including any offers for immunity that were made to Shoaf.  Benninger contends in his filing that Shoaf “was laboring under extreme emotional distress, anxiety and duress and/or suffering from a diagnosed mental illness at the time she made incriminating statements concerning herself and defendant Shelia Eddy.”

♦ A motion to dismiss the indictment against Eddy, claiming that investigators “engaged in substantial prosecutorial misconduct” through their contact with Eddy before she was indicated.

♦ A motion to delay a scheduled Oct. 15 pretrial hearing to give the defense more time to file additional motions and gather evidence.

♦ A motion for the prosecution to turn over all relevant evidence it has obtained, including a list of state witnesses and alleged co-conspirators.

Eddy has remained in jail since her arrest earlier this year.

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