GATE CITY — Two men who could face the death penalty if convicted of capital murder will not face trial until 2014 at the earliest after being granted continuances last week in Scott County Circuit Court.
Daniel Eugene Norris, 37, of Bristol, Tenn., who is the accused trigger man in the Christmas 2011 shooting of a Nickelsville man, had his trial date moved to May 19, 2014.
Shannon I.Q. Bellamy, 22, of Gate City, also had his trial delayed. Charged with capital murder for allegedly killing a fellow inmate at the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail in Duffield, Bellamy is now scheduled to stand trial beginning Feb. 19.
In both instances, the trials were delayed so the defendants could be evaluated by a mitigation expert, authorities said.
“These are capital cases and in those cases there is a mitigation expert that has to be hired to evaluate the defendant for sanity and things of that nature,” Scott County Commonwealth’s Attorney McClung said. “It’s mandatory in a capital case, and also for mitigation of punishment. It’s a more intensive type of evaluation.”
McClung added: “It’s my understanding there are only two psychiatrists in the state that do these evaluations, they are busy all the way through so they set those cases that far off to make sure they could get the evaluations.”
The motions were granted during separate court appearances last week by defense attorneys for both men.
During the special hearing, Norris’ attorney made a motion that Virginia statutes pertaining to death penalty cases were unconstitutional because they do not follow due process.
Scott County Circuit Court Judge John Kilgore denied the defense’s motion, as well as their request for bond for Norris.
Norris is the second person charged in connection with the Dec. 24, 2011, shooting death of Gregory Jerome Hale at his home Nickelsville.
Authorities said Norris shot Hale twice in the head during an armed robbery.
A jury convicted Charlie Joe Ramey, of Bristol, Tenn., of first-degree murder in connection with Hale’s death and recommended he serve life in prison. Ramey is awaiting his final sentencing.
In an unrelated case, Bellamy was charged with capital murder after he allegedly killed a fellow sex offender during a fight at the Duffield Regional Jail.
Jeffery Allen Kilgore, 42, of Wise, died after allegedly being hit in the head by Bellamy during an altercation in a housing unit at the jail.
The fight reportedly lasted just over a minute.