Trial set: Eric Abshire pleads not guilty to wife killing

The Greene County man accused of killing his wife and staging her death as an automotive hit-and-run pleaded not guilty to first degree murder at his arraignment Thursday, March 3 in Orange County Circuit Court.

Thirty-six-year-old Eric Dee Abshire, who has been incarcerated at the Central Virginia Regional Jail since his December 17 arrest, spoke clearly as he entered the plea before Judge Daniel Bouton. He agreed to waive his right to a speedy trial, giving his court-appointed attorney, Charlottesville-based Charles Weber, additional time to scrutinize several boxes of evidence collected by the prosecution during the four-year investigation into the November 2006 death of 27-year-old kindergarten teacher Justine Swartz Abshire.

Acknowledging the complexity of the case, Judge Bouton set aside two weeks for trial, October 12-26. He also granted the defense's request for access to transcripts from an investigative grand jury, but warned Weber that only he and his staff get access to the top-secret testimony.

At a February 10 hearing at which Abshire was denied bond, Commonwealth's Attorney Diana Wheeler claimed "many" witnesses reported fear of retribution if they testified before the grand jury. One in particular, Wheeler said, recalled a direct threat by one of Abshire's relatives relating to the witness testimony. So will Abshire himself get access to those records and see who was accusing him of things?

"I only heard the judge say counsel and staff," said Wheeler.

The defense counsel, however, says Abshire will have access to the information, if not actual copies of the transcripts.

"He's got to assist in his own defense," says Weber, who has also requested that the Commonwealth provide Abshire with a forensic pathologist and a criminal investigator. Those motions will be heard on Friday, March 11.

Justine's parents, Heidi and Steve Swartz, were both present for Abshire's arraignment and say they're disappointed but not surprised that their former son-in-law claims innocence.

"Eric has denied this from the beginning," says Heidi Swartz. And while a perjury charge against Abshire was set aside until the murder charges are resolved, both parents say they're pleased to see the trial date scheduled.

"The most important thing," says Steve Swartz, "is that it moves forward."

This story is a part of the The killing of Justine Swartz Abshire special.

9 comments

Finally a day coming to my auntie Heidie . May that day bring you and yours some peace......

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He plead... Not guilty YALL GOTSTA FEEL ME!!!
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SN - Tim Breezy don't trust people wit beady eyes like Abshire, can't be on dis jury mane

It sounds pretty obvious that the defendant's story is not going to hold up. "According to a police description of the autopsy report, she suffered 113 blunt trauma injuries--- including 23 to her head. None of the injuries seemed to correspond to the typical injuries sustained by victims of hit and run: horizontal leg injuries known as "strike points" created when a car or truck bumper strikes flesh and bone." I hope that there will finally be justice for Justine. A tragic loss; my prayers are with her parents, her sister, her friends, and those who loved her. May the person who will soon be found guilty of this horrible crime pay the price for what he did.

This doesn't go here, but I don't know where else to post this. I've already emailed Courteney Stuart, but it looks like the Fairfax, VA rapist linked to Morgan Harrington's case through DNA was finally caught:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_east_coast_rapist

"FILE - This composite of artists' sketches provided by the Fairfax, Va., County Police Department shows the likeness of a suspect wanted for 12 sexual assaults or attempted sexual assaults between 1997 and 2009 in Maryland, Virginia, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. The sketches were made in 1998, left, in 1999, center, and in 2000, right. Federal and local authorities said Friday March 4, 2011 they have arrested a suspect in the so-called East Coast Rapist case. Members of the U.S. Marshal's Fugitive Task Force arrested Aaron Thomas, 39, 'without incident' at his home in New Haven, police spokesman Joseph Avery said."

And from this Hook article ( http://www.readthehook.com/88650/hes-still-here-and-other-revelations-ha... ):

"This composite sketch of a suspect in the Harrington case was created from the description given by the victim in a 2005 rape in Fairfax. DNA evidence links this unknown man to both crimes."

So are we saying then that Morgan's killer has been found??????

(If I'm mistaken about this then my apologies, and please delete this post.)

C- I saw this man's composite sketch this morning in the online edition of the NY Post and emailed the link to the Va. State Police website. The "East Coast Rapist" looks just like the composite sketch of the Harrington case sketch. Let's hope.

It seems pretty obvious to me that they're one and the same. I excerpted quotes from both sources that show how they overlap. BUT, I could be wrong. I'm just surprised this has gone relatively ignored here. You're the only one who's responded to this and I posted it this weekend. Why does nobody care? A serial rapist with ties to Virginia and Fairfax with a composite sketch that looks like the one listed in the Harrington case.....and where the only reason they supposedly have that sketch in the Harrington case is due to DNA traces found somewhere along the way in the case that linked up to a Fairfax guy. Hello. Yet, nobody's saying anything about this here. Why??

It sure would be nice if that location could be determined. If it was outside I'm sure all evidence is probably degraded by now. But if it could be found, Eric would have to find another explanation for her death. Not that anyone believes his current story.

Regards
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