West Virginia Record

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Woman argues self defense before Supreme Court

By Steve Korris | Feb 16, 2007

CHARLESTON – Valerie Whittaker served almost two years in prison for killing her boyfriend, but she continues trying to prove she shot him in self defense.

On Feb. 14, attorney David Smith of Bluefield asked the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals to set aside a jury verdict of voluntary manslaughter against her.

Smith told the Justices Whittaker made parole Friday, Feb. 9.

Chief Justice Robin Davis said, "I am glad to hear that."

Justice Spike Maynard asked how long she served.

Smith said, "Close to two years."

Whittaker shot Jerry Calvin Mills with a revolver from 17 feet away in her kitchen.

Their nine year old daughter was in her bedroom.

Mercer County jurors rejected Whittaker's claim of self defense.

Last April, while Whittaker remained behind bars, Smith petitioned the Supreme Court of Appeals for a new trial.

Smith wrote that Mills stood six foot four, weighed 233 pounds and bore a Grim Reaper tattoo on his biceps.

He wrote that Whittaker obtained four domestic violence petitions against Mills.

In oral arguments Feb. 14, Smith said there was no dispute about the ugly facts of Mills's behavior toward Whittaker.

Davis said, "If the jury heard all that, why didn't they buy self defense?"

Smith said, "I wish I knew."

Davis said, "Was it because she put a gun in his hand?"

Maynard asked if it was because she got her daughter to lie.

Maynard said, "She went to the other room and got a gun and put it in his hand. That destroyed her credibility with the jury."

Smith said it was akin to flight. He said, "It shows panic but it doesn't show malice."

Maynard said, "From 17 feet away she shot an unarmed man?"

Smith said, "If you were in her shoes you would consider his fist every bit as dangerous as a shotgun."

For the state, deputy attorney general Dawn Warfield said, "The defense in this case seems to be, Jerry Calvin Mills deserved killing."

Warfield said, "He was a bad guy. Defendant knew he was a bad guy."

She said that after three domestic violence orders Whittaker went back to Mills.

She said, "Every time he got drunk he said he would kill both of them."

She said Whittaker testified she never shot a gun and did not load the revolver.

She said, "We don't know who loaded that gun."

She said the shot hit Mills right between the eyes. She said, "The jury said, something is fishy about that."

She said Whittaker filed domestic violence petitions but, "She kept going back to him." Davis said, "You know as well as I do, that's what happens."

Warfield wrapped up with a summary of the evidence.

Maynard said, "That's why we build courthouses. That's why we have juries."

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