By Bobby Bordelon
The Greenbrier County Circuit Court could be “heading toward” a double homicide trial against Terri Lynn Storer, noted her defense attorney Brandon Johnson in a hearing under Judge Richardson on Tuesday, January 5.
In a routine hearing set to monitor the case, Johnson and Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Ryan Blake agreed that both parties needed more time to continue negotiations for a resolution, but the future of the case is currently uncertain.
“We have continued to have discussions with the state,” Johnson said. “We have met with our client as well. At this point, with the situation with COVID, we would like to continue the matter and push it down the road somewhat until … there is a resolution to this or see if we are going to go to trial. I think at this point, I’d say it’s heading toward a trial, but there is some additional stuff that needs to be done, but with COVID it’s been difficult.”
A Greenbrier County Grand Jury indicted Terri Lynn Storer with two counts of murder and Randy Lee Barnhart with two counts of accessory after the fact to murder in August 2020. The charges emerged from a shooting incident near the Greenbrier County and Nicholas County line on Coleman Road in Williamsburg.
“Through investigation it was discovered Jeremiah Thomas, 33, and Jennifer Thomas, 34, had allegedly gotten into an argument over a hunting lease with Randy Barnhart, 45, and Terri Storer, 45,” reads an initial press release from the West Virginia State Police. “During this incident Jeremiah Thomas and Jennifer Thomas were fatally wounded.”
Greenbrier County Prosecutor Patrick Via previously explained the dispute consisted mainly of who should have access to a piece of land often used for hunting.
In August, Storer was permitted a $500,000 bond, with mandatory home incarceration. After making the decision, Richardson explained the arguments for both the defense and prosecution for bond, saying the “court needs to consider all of the circumstances and make an equitable and appropriate decision that recognizes both the importance of the defendants [continued appearances and cooperation] as well as the risk to the community of further offenses. Reviewing this, I have to take very seriously the nature of the charges. Two murder charges have been brought against this defendant. … That by itself, in the court’s view, creates a risk of the defendant’s appearance at further proceedings.”
However, Richardson continued, the “defendant has not fled during the period following the alleged offense, has maintained contact with her attorneys, and [maintains] that she wishes to pursue a vigorous defense of this indictment. Taking those factors into account … I am going to permit the defendant to be released on bond.”
Richardson set further hearings and a deadline for filing motions by early March, giving the defense time to process discovery and the state to file for admissibility of evidence.
“Hopefully the distribution of the vaccine and getting through the next few months will make the situation substantially better than it is right now,” Richardson said. “ … The court has adopted a policy of avoiding large in-person gatherings such as jury trials and meetings with the grand jury while the Harvard Global Health Institute’s classification system shows Greenbrier County in the high-risk, red category, which is where we have been for a number of weeks.”