Local murder trial begins today
Posted: February 26, 2013
The Winchester Star
WINCHESTER — A city man charged with the New Year’s Day 2012 murder of a Berkeley Springs, W.Va., man will go on trial today in Frederick County Circuit Court.
Bradley Scott Gregory, 28, is charged with first-degree murder, felony homicide (or second-degree murder) and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony in the death of Michael Scott Shirley, 27.
Jury selection will begin at 9 a.m., with Judge Clay Athey presiding.
Gregory appeared in court Monday with his attorney, Public Defender Timothy Coyne, for a last-minute motions hearing.
Coyne renewed a motion to dismiss the felony homicide charge after Commonwealth’s Attorney Ross Spicer changed the underlying felony involved in the charge.
Felony murder means that in the commission of a felony, someone is accidentally killed. In this case, the underlying felony was malicious wounding — it is now unlawful wounding.
The difference between malicious and unlawful wounding is that the former is done with the presence of malice.
Spicer said previously that the charge was based on a statement Gregory made to law enforcement officials, indicating that he meant to shoot Shirley in the leg.
Frederick County sheriff’s deputies responded during the early morning of Jan. 1 to a 911 call regarding a person shot at 1373 S. Timber Ridge Road, near the West Virginia border. According to court records, Gregory was sitting in a vehicle in a parking area when he loaded the gun and shot Shirley in the chest.
Documents state that Gregory admitted shooting Shirley.
A jury could potentially find Gregory guilty of both murder charges, but to avoid breaking double jeopardy laws, the court would vacate the less serious charge.
Coyne anticipates, he said in court, difficulty presenting defenses for Gregory because of the unusual nature of his being charged with two different types of murder.
Spicer previously said the two charges allow prosecutors to present different theories at the trial, much as Gregory can present different defenses.
— Contact Melissa Boughton at firstname.lastname@example.org