Stanley slaying case headed to grand jury

Page News and Courier

LURAY, Jan. 11 ― The case against a Page County man charged in the Sept. 26 shooting of his 15-year-old girlfriend in Stanley is headed to a grand jury.

James Shrader, 19, is charged with second-degree murder and felony murder in the death of Gwynn Fishel.

He is also charged with possession of a firearm after being a convicted felon, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony and reckless handling of a firearm.

Judge William H. Logan certified the charges against Shrader following a 90-minute hearing in Page County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court on Monday.

The case goes before a grand jury on Jan. 28.

Shrader is being held at the Page County Jail in Luray without bond.

He was initially charged with involuntary manslaughter, but the charges were elevated on Nov. 16.

Cpl. Curtis Long of the Page County Sheriff’s Office testified Monday that he responded to the shooting call at 208 W. Main St. around 2 a.m. on Sept. 26.

He encountered Shrader in the apartment’s living room, he said, with blood on his hands and clothes.

Long found Fishel, who had recently started her freshmen year at Page County High School, on her back in the bedroom with a gunshot wound to her left temple. She was still alive but unresponsive, Long said.

She was transported to the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville, where she died around 1 a.m. on Sept. 28.

Fishel moved to Stanley from Stephens City in June, a family member told the Winchester Star in September, and had recently started dating Shrader.

The Page County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office is not disclosing Shrader’s prior felony conviction or convictions since he was a juvenile at the time.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Ilona White submitted documents at Monday’s hearing saying the charges were adjudicated in February 2012.

In his testimony Monday, Long said Shrader initially told him he didn’t know what happened, but then said Fishel shot herself.

Capt. Aaron Cubbage, lead investigator on the case, testified Shrader later told investigators that he was cleaning the gun, a .22-caliber revolver, and it went off.

At the scene, Shrader told Cubbage he didn’t put his finger on the trigger, but a screwdriver he was using pushed into the gun, causing it to go off.

Cubbage testified that, in an interview with Maj. Jason Pettit the day after the shooting, Shrader became emotional and said he pulled the trigger two times with the gun pointed in Fishel’s direction to check if the cylinder would rotate and the hammer worked, but forgot about the live round.

Logan said Shrader’s decision to point the gun in Fishel’s direction justified the charges.

“That, folks, is not accidental ― it’s intentional,” Logan said.

Shrader said he didn’t check the gun for bullets before cleaning it, but in the same interview claimed he didn’t see any bullets, Cubbage said.

Cubbage said Shrader was adamant that he was not aiming at Fishel, and told investigators he had no motive to intentionally shoot her.

Long didn’t see the gun when he arrived on the scene, but Shrader told him it was in a hole cut in the bottom of the mattress.

Cubbage said Shrader told him he hid the revolver because he “didn’t want to see it.”

Shrader got the gun from a friend three weeks before the shooting, Cubbage said. Long testified the gun was “in rough shape” and had a missing grip.

Cubbage did not identify the friend on Monday.

When defense attorney Gene Hart asked Cubbage to describe the gun, he said he remembered two plastic pieces on the handle, one of which had slid forward and revealed the “inner workings of the gun.”

Cubbage said he is not a firearms expert when Hart asked if there was anything within the handle that could cause the gun to fire. He said no tests were conducted on the gun.

More news

Subscribe to our mailing list
Twitter  FaceBook  RSS