A Virginia district court judge has approved the use of funds for a defendant to hire a digital forensics expert to examine the cell phone and GPS data that is being used by the prosecutors in connection with his trial for murder.
On February 13, 2018, Orange County authorities responded to Wendell’s Place Laundromat on Route 20 in Locust Grove, Virginia. There had been reports that a male was on the floor with a gunshot wound to the head. A 24-year-old man, Alisair Smith of Unionville, Virginia, was found lying on his stomach on the floor, along with three spent cartridges and a loaded cartridge.
While still on the scene, the lead investigator was notified that Michael Alan Humphries II, 37, had turned himself in at the local jail, saying that he had “shot a guy.” Humphries reportedly told police that he suspected his wife was having an affair with the victim. The victim formerly served in the U.S. Army and was the father of a young daughter.
Video footage from the laundromat showed a man walking into the Laundromat, shooting the victim with a long rifle and then exiting the business. According to court records, there is also video footage that shows the defendant “going through the victim’s laundry in the dryer prior to the shooting.”
Humphries was charged with first-degree murder and use of a firearm in commission of a felony in connection with Smith’s death. At his arraignment, Humphries pleaded not guilty.
Humphries’ Defense Pretrial Motions
Humphries was originally represented by court-appointed attorney Adam Rhea. However, four months ago, Humphries claimed ineffective assistance of counsel. He wrote a letter accusing Rhea of not putting in enough time to properly represent him in court and requesting a new lawyer. The district court granted Humphries’ request and court-appointed attorney David Randle has been representing Humphries since that date.
At a hearing in advance of Humphries’ trial, his attorney David Randle requested court funding to hire a digital forensics expert for Humphries’ defense. Randle argued in his motion that the commonwealth plans to present evidence using data related to Humphries’ movements leading up to the alleged homicide.
Judge Dale Durrer granted the motion and allocated up to $6,000 for a defense expert to analyze the cell and GPS data from Digital Forensics Corp. of Raleigh, North Carolina.
Case by the Commonwealth
The Orange County Commonwealth has subpoenaed more than two dozen witnesses to testify at Humphries’ trial. These witnesses include: members of law enforcement, forensic scientists, Laundromat employees and family members of the defendant and victim. According to court records, other evidence will include audio interviews, surveillance footage, body cam footage and crime scene and autopsy photographs.
Attorney for the Orange County Commonwealth, Diana Wheeler stated that there may be some dispute at trial with the prosecution’s use of “certain photos from the crime scene.”
Humphries’ trial is scheduled to begin on September 27, 2019. Judge Durrer set a hearing for September 26 to consider any outstanding issues.