Rushmere murders a capital case

Published 10:39 am Wednesday, March 14, 2018

IW to ask for death for Kareem Mitchell

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

Isle of Wight County prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against one of the men accused in the murder of two Rushmere residents.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Georgette Phillips will present evidence to a grand jury seeking that indictment against Kareem Jamar Mitchell, 29, after a preliminary hearing is held. 

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However, the preliminary hearing against Mitchell and his two co-defendants was continued until April 26 after the public defender’s office realized it had once defended a prosecution witness, said Isle of Wight County Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Edwards.{mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

That would have caused problems during cross-examination, he said.

Members of the Starnes family were at the courthouse Thursday, as attorneys and the judge decided to continue the case. 

“The wheels of justice turn slowly, but they turn,” said Judge James A. Moore. 

Mitchell and Richard Alexander Holmes, 19, are accused of murder in connection with the deaths of Nancy Starnes, 80, and her son, Kenneth, 58, last September. A third co-defendant, Sharon Galvin, 37, is charged with possession of and intent to sell stolen property and obstruction. A juvenile who was living in her home at the time was charged with similar crimes. 

The Starneses were murdered in their Ennisdale Drive home in the early morning hours of Sept. 23 and numerous items were missing, including two vehicles. 

Edwards said that only the shooter can be charged with a capital offense. 

Mitchell had provided investigators with a detailed account of the events that led to the murder of the Starneses, as well as his own actions during the crime.

Mitchell and Holmes remain in custody at Western Tidewater Regional Jail. Galvin is out on bond and was present in the courtroom that day. 

The ability to charge an individual with capital murder typically includes several elements, including the murder of more than one person and whether or not another crime was committed during the incident, according to the Code of Virginia.

The last time Isle of Wight prosecutors sought a capital conviction was in 2012-13 against Joseph “Jay” Joyner, who eventually plead guilty to killing his father and stepmother as a way to avoid the death penalty.  {/mprestriction}