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Greene County teen pleads guilty to murder

Greene County teen pleads guilty to murder

A Greene County teenager pleaded guilty Monday to second-degree murder in the December death of a Charlottesville woman after a courtroom altercation between members of the two families.

Brandon Wade Shifflett, 18, killed Sara Hammond, 21, in the early morning hours of Dec. 1 at his father’s home in the 7000 block of Celt Road in Greene. He was 17 at that time.

Approximately 20 family and friends of Hammond arrived to court wearing purple shirts with a photo of her on the front; some had the words “In Loving Memory” above that and “4Eva Sara” on the back, some had just “Sara” on the back and others had no writing.

Shifflett entered the courtroom wearing his orange jumpsuit with his ankles shackled together and his hands cuffed to his waist. Before the case was even heard, Dominique Perkins, the victim’s brother, kept leaning forward in his seat with his eyes fixed on Shifflett. The Hon. Judge Claude Worrell II, as well as several deputies, attempted to get his attention by asking him to please sit back in his seat. When he stood, Judge Worrell asked him to either sit in the back of the courtroom or leave. Instead, Dominique Perkins walked to the aisle where Shifflett’s father, Wade Shifflett, was sitting.

At that point, a physical altercation occurred.

As the deputies were breaking it up, Brandon Shifflett was led back into the holding cell; as that happened, Perkins ran toward the hall leading to the holding cells and the defendant before he was stopped by a deputy. Perkins was held in contempt for disrupting courtroom proceedings.

Monique Perkins was also held in contempt as she tried to calm the situation with her brother, she told the judge when he brought her out of the holding cells into the courtroom after the hearing.

“I was honestly trying to defuse the situation … I didn’t mean any harm or to disrupt,” she said.

Dominique Perkins was scheduled to be arraigned on the charge at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, which is after press time.

Judge Worrell cleared the courtroom, asking everyone to be rescreened before re-entry.

When the judge returned to the courtroom he told everyone he didn’t want to see anything of this sort again.

“I’m going to ask everybody to abide by the general civil rules we have when we gather together; respect each other and the process,” Judge Worrell said.

After the indictment was read, Shifflett pleaded guilty and Judge Worrell asked him if he understood that he was giving up his right to appeal and that the plea agreement did not have any sentencing requirements, to which Shifflett answered affirmatively. The minimum sentence for second-degree murder is five years and the maximum is 40 years in prison and up to a $100,000 fine.

Greene County Commonwealth’s Attorney Edwin Consolvo laid out the facts of the case, noting that Shifflett had two friends over for dinner on the evening of Nov. 30, 2020, in a basement apartment in his father’s house. The trio drove to Charlottesville to pick up Hammond and bring her back to Greene County. The two friends went to the basement to sleep and inside the upstairs of the house, Wade Shifflett was also asleep.

Consolvo said in a video taken from a neighbor’s home you can see the light go on outside of the Shifflett’s home and then hear three gunshots. One of the gunshots hit Hammond in the chest and caused her death; she was pronounced dead at the scene.

Consolvo said on the video you can hear Shifflett say, “Stupid a** b***h.” Then Wade Shifflett can be heard saying, “Brandon what have you done?”

Wade Shifflett told the police he was asleep inside the home when he heard the gunshots and came outside to see Hammond face down; he confronted his son, who rushed past him to the basement and then left in his friend’s car.

Consolvo said one of the friends told police they were awakened by Shifflett running down the stairs, upset and crying, yelling, “We gotta go. We gotta go. I’m gonna kill myself. We gotta go.”

On Friday, Dec. 4, Shifflett returned back to Greene County and asked someone to call the sheriff’s office so he could turn himself in and was upset and crying, Consolvo said.

Instead of playing the video in the courtroom, the judge said he’d view it himself in chambers.

Lloyd Snook, Shifflett’s defense attorney, said he could not make out the words heard on the video, even with enhancement.

“The camera is on a neighbor’s house, at least 500 feet away,” Snook said. “Audio enhancement and video enhancement can only get you so far. The light goes on and 8 seconds later there are gunshots.”

He said he could hear voices but not make out what was said.

Snook said there was no motive for the killing that he was aware of.

The judge accepted the agreement as presented and scheduled sentencing for 9 a.m. on Jan. 18, 2022. Shifflett was also facing a charge for use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, which the commonwealth dropped per the plea agreement.

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Editor, Greene County Record

Terry Beigie is the Editor of the Greene County Record in Stanardsville. She can be reached at tbeigie@greene-news.com or (434) 985-2315.

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