GATE CITY — With the murder case against Bristol, Tenn., resident Charlie Joe Ramey likely headed for trial in March, Scott County prosecutors filed a seldom used motion last week that would allow future jury members to view the alleged crime scene in person.
Ramey, 60, is one of two people facing murder charges in connection with the Christmas 2011 shooting death of Gregory Jerome Hale at his home in Nickelsville.
Scott County Commonwealth’s Attorney Marcus McClung said he filed the jury view motion because he felt a visit to the alleged murder scene would provide important context for jurors once they are selected.
“What we’re asking the court, we feel that the jury, whoever they are, could get a better understanding of this case and better make a decision if they actually see the scene,” McClung said. “If they know the distances and where things are located, they’ll have a better idea when we testify to it.”
Jury view motions are seldom filed, reportedly occurring in only 5 percent, or less, of trials. McClung said last week’s motion was the first of its kind he has filed since taking office.
Ramey’s defense attorney is expected to oppose McClung’s request at a motions hearing set for Wednesday in Scott County Circuit Court.
Ramey has maintained his innocence since being arrested and pleaded not guilty last year to a charge of felony murder in the case. As a result, his four-day jury trial is scheduled to begin March 19.
The alleged gunman in Hale’s shooting — Daniel Eugene Norris, of Bristol, Tenn. — is also facing trial in Scott County on charges of capital murder.
“Our evidence wasn’t that Ramey pulled the trigger, he went over there to commit a robbery and a murder occurred,” McClung said. “Norris is the alleged trigger man."
As a result of being charged with capital murder, Norris could receive the death penalty if he is convicted.
A motion’s hearing for Norris is scheduled for July 2, with his trial, expected to take seven days, to begin Aug. 27.
At a preliminary hearing for Ramey in July 2012, authorities laid out evidence accusing the two men of shooting Hale in his Nickelsville home on Christmas night.
Scott County authorities allege that drugs and robbery were motives in the killing.
The Scott County Medical Examiner’s Office testified that Hale died of gunshot wounds he received to the back and side of his head from close range with a small-caliber handgun.
Both Ramey and Norris are being held without bond at the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail in Duffield.