The trial of an Elkins man charged with 50 counts of incest was postponed after Judge Jaymie Wilfong declared a mistrial in Randolph County Circuit Court.
The two-day trial of Derek Shifflett, 31, was scheduled to begin today; however, Wilfong called a mistrial following a marathon 12 1/2-hour jury selection process on Sept. 10, Randolph County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Parker said.
"It was drawn to our attention that there were some inconsistencies with two of the jurors in the responses they gave to some of the questioning during jury selection," Parker said in a phone interview Tuesday. "We became aware of the inconsistencies after jury selection had concluded. Based upon the inconsistencies, the state moved to strike one of the jurors and the defense counsel moved to strike the other juror."
"Because there was only one alternate for this jury panel, that left 11 jurors and to try the case we obviously need 12," Parker added.
According to state code, a jury in a criminal case must be selected from a panel of 20 impartial jurors. The prosecution is permitted to strike two jurors from that pool, and the defense is allotted six strikes. There are typically three people in the running to serve as alternates, and the prosecution strikes one of the alternates, while the defense strikes the other, leaving one alternate.
Shifflett was indicted in February on 50 counts of incest, a felony; 50 counts of first-degree sexual assault, a felony; and 50 counts of sexual abuse by a parent, guardian or custodian, a felony. The indictment alleges Shifflett had sexual intercourse with a family member under the age of 12 on numerous occasions between Oct. 1, 2011, and Sept. 30, 2012.
Shifflett, who is being held on a $360,000 cash-only bond, has been incarcerated in the Tygart Valley Regional Jail since Oct. 2, 2012, according to the TVRJ website. His attorney, Christopher Cooper, told Wilfong his client was eager for the case to proceed.
"My client has maintained his innocence from the beginning, and he has sat in jail for almost a year," Cooper told the court. "While these are some egregious charges, until he is convicted, my client sits here an innocent man."
On Tuesday, Parker said the trial will be rescheduled "at the court's earliest convenience," noting that new dates are likely to be set during a suppression hearing Friday in Circuit Court.
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