Charges Dropped, But May Be Refiled Against Accused Murderer

SHENANDOAH COUNTY, Va. -- On March 25, 2014, in the General District Court of Shenandoah County, the charges of first-degree murder, breaking and entering and grand larceny of a firearm against Claude Delmus Shafer Jr. were the subject of a motion of nolle prosequi, which dismisses the charges currently pending in the General District Court.

Prosecutors may seek later indictments for those charges and/or additional charges in the Circuit Court.

Shafer remains held without bond on matters pending in the Circuit Court of Shenandoah County, which include a charge of robbery that was returned by the grand jury on August 28, 2013 and that arose out of the June 14, 2013 incident, and several probation violations.

"Dropping charges in the district court is a common prosecution option, particularly when a defended is being held without bond on charges already pending in the circuit court. General District Courts in Virginia do not have jurisdiction over the trial of any felony charges. Instead, a general district court can only hold a preliminary hearing on the evidence before charges are certified and sent to the grand jury for the ultimate decision as to whether to return a bill of indictment against any defendant."

"I remain committed to seeing that all criminal activity in Shenandoah County is punished to the full extent of the law. However, sometimes, the preliminary hearing can place the prosecution at a disadvantage or circumstances may exist that are beyond the control of the prosecution, which make a motion for nolle prosequi the appropriate course of action. In those cases, it is often more fitting to dismiss the charges in the district court and seek a bill of indictment in the circuit court, particularly where a defendant is already being held on other charges and there is no threat to the safety of the citizens of Shenandoah County or the community at large."

Shaffer remains incarcerated in the Shenandoah County Jail.

His next court date is April 16 at 2 p.m. in the Shenandoah Circuit Court. is happy to provide a forum for commenting and discussion. Please respect and abide by the house rules:

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