STANARDSVILLE — The prosecution rested its case Wednesday against triple-murder suspect Taybronne Altereik White after a Charlottesville woman testified that she didn’t mention him to police in an interview following the killings because she was afraid.
“Two of my best friends were dead, and the last person I saw them with was not,” said Jessica Houchens, the former girlfriend of Dustin Tyler Knighton, one of three people White is accused of killing. “They were still looking for him, and he knew where I lived. Within a month, I was in a different house.”
White, 28, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the May 3, 2011, shooting deaths of Knighton, 25; Brian Robert Daniels, 26; and Lisa Hwang, 26. Their bodies were found that morning dumped on Octonia Road just north of Stanardsville.
White is facing other charges, including the malicious wounding of Willie Roy.
White is also accused of breaking in to the house Roy was staying in on Ford Avenue in Stanardsville, demanding money and striking Roy in the face.
Houchens testified that Knighton and Daniels spent much of the day before the shootings drinking at her home, and said White joined them late in the evening.
Defense attorney Edward Ungvarsky asked Houchens if she agreed to testify to get out of two felony charges of conspiracy to commit a felony. Prosecutors dropped those charges in May, court records show.
“The first time you talk to anyone in law enforcement and mention [White’s] name is after you were trying to get your charges dropped,” Ungvarsky said.
Houchens said she would have testified regardless of the charges against her.
“These are my two best friends. I would have been here anyway,” she said.
During cross examination, Houchens testified that she left White, Knighton and Daniels at her home after buying them beer, and then went to put her children to bed at a cousin’s house, where she said she took half an Ecstasy pill Daniels had given her.
When she returned home at about 3 a.m., the three men were gone, she said.
Former Greene County evidence technician James Shifflett took the stand for the final time Wednesday, this time to testify about evidence he recovered from Greene County roadsides.
Shifflett testified that he remembered retrieving a small pair of shorts and baby shoes from a site associated with the case.
Hemenway asked Shifflett whether he also remembered what he had done with money he stole from Greene County evidence lockers. In each case, Shifflett said “no.”
Shifflett pleaded guilty in January to stealing more than $19,000 from county evidence lockers and received a 10-year suspended sentence.
The defense will begin presenting its case when the trial continues Thursday morning.