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Two witnesses testified at a hearing Monday that the man accused of attacking and robbing 80-year-old Bob Terry Oct. 1 of last year threatened to kill them if they told who had committed the crime.
Eventually, however, after Jason Andrew Shell of Roanoke was arrested in Vinton on another charge, they did tell police, leading to his arrest for the Bedford County crime that outraged the Moneta community.
At Monday’s preliminary hearing, General District Court Judge Harold Black certified four felony counts against Shell to a grand jury. Those charges associated with the attack on Terry were—aggravated malicious wounding, robbery, possession of a firearm by a felon and use of a firearm in commission of robbery. A Bedford grand jury will now decide whether to indict Shell on those charges.
Testifying last at the hearing, Terry took the stand and calmly answered questions about the attack from Commonwealth’s Attorney Randy Krantz.
“He put me on the ground and started beating me,” Terry said of the attack. He said the attacker cussed at him throughout the incident. “I was trying to reach my gun,” he said. “I never did get to it.”
Terry said he wasn’t carrying any cash from the store and the attacker yelled, “You son of a b****, where’s your money?”
Terry said, after the attack, he was able to get up and went to a neighbor’s home for help. They called 911 and the last thing Terry said he remembers is getting to the emergency room.
Terry testified he suffered broken bones in his jaw and cheek and had six screws put in. He also had bruises to his upper body. “My jaw bone is still sore,” he said. “My chin is numb.”
Bethany Craig and James Presnell both testified that Shell had threatened to kill them if they told authorities that he had admitted to robbing Terry around 9 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 1. Terry had just closed his store, Terry’s Country Store, and was going out to his car when the attack occurred.
Craig, whose daughter was dating Shell at that time, said Shell had asked her prior to the robbery if Terry had any security cameras or alarms at the store. “I wondered why he was asking me stuff like that,” she said.
She said Terry had been good to her family over the years, allowing them to carry a tab at the store.
Craig’s daughter, Crystal Collins, said she asked Shell about the attack, after hearing about it from the news. “He said he only hit him (Terry) one time,” Collins said about Shell’s admission. “He said he would kill my mother and my mother’s boyfriend if they told.”
Enoch Presnell testified that James Presnell, his cousin, had visited his home the evening of Oct. 1, offering to sell him a gun, a .38 Smith and Wesson revolver. Though he didn’t buy the gun, Enoch Presnell did become concerned it might have been associated with the robbery of Terry, that occurred just minutes from his home. He called another friend, who later contacted the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office, with a tip about the handgun.
That led investigators to go to James Presnell’s home the following Monday to question him about the handgun. A convicted felon, James Presnell didn’t initially admit to having a gun. He later called authorities, through his attorney, after learning that Shell had been arrested on another crime.
James Presnell said Shell came to his home the Saturday night of the attack, showed him the gun and asked him to try and sell it for him. That’s when he visited his cousin.
“I was scared to death,” James Presnell said of Shell’s threats against his life.
James Presnell testified that Shell admitted to hitting Terry “a couple of times” and that, after the attack, he left Terry on the ground “gurgling.”
Bedford County Investigator Scott Arney testified that the .38 revolver Shell allegedly had was taken from Terry during the attack. Arney stated that a search of Shell’s car, after his Vinton arrest, turned up a full camouflage face mask.
Shell’s girlfriend testified that she was with him when Shell sold the gun at a Hardee’s restaurant in Southeast Roanoke. Arney stated he was familiar with the gun, having seen it in Terry’s possession prior to it being taken.
Black did not certify a charge of use of a firearm in commission of the malicious wounding. Prosecutors could seek a direct indictment on that charge through the grand jury.
Shell is being held in jail.