A seven man, five woman jury with one alternate, was seated Monday in Adams County Common Pleas Court in the murder trial of Roddy Shane Tolle, 43, Judge Brett Spencer presiding.
Tolle has pleaded not guilty to the shooting death of Charles “Duke” Brewer, 60, on June 27, 2014, at Brewer’s residence on Island Creek Road in Monroe Township. Defense attorneys, Nicholas Ring and Tanya Drinnon, had filed for a not guilty plea by reason of insanity, but after multiple examinations Tolle was found competent to stand trial.
Tuesday morning the jury traveled to Brewer’s residence on Island Creek Road to view the year-old-crime scene.
In their opening statements Tuesday, prosecutors charged Tolle with five counts: Aggravated Murder; Murder; Murder by Felonious Assault, Having a Weapon under Disability, and Tampering with Evidence.
The defense declined to make an opening statement.
Throughout the remainder of the day prosecutors called multiple witnesses who testified that on June 27, 2014 Tolle contacted them in an attempt to procure a gun so that he could kill Charles “Duke” Brewer.
Bobby Jo Brewer, brother of the deceased, took the stand and described his encounter with Tolle. “He asked to borrow a gun,” Brewer stated. “He said he was going to kill my brother.” Brewer then used Tolle’s cell phone to call his sister, Betty (Brewer) Bentley. She failed to answer so he left a message telling her that Tolle was threatening to kill their brother. When asked, during cross examination, if he had called the police or his brother to warn him of the threat, Brewer, sobbing, said he had not. He said that he hadn’t taken Tolle’s threat seriously because he was a long-time family friend.
At approximately 3:30 pm. that same day, Betty Bentley returned the call to Tolle’s cell phone. Visibly distressed and crying, she told the court that Tolle warned her she would “have one less brother by that evening.” Shortly thereafter she saw Tolle driving down Island Creek Road toward her brother Charles’ home.
Billie Jo Goodwin, the daughter of Charles “Duke” Brewer, wept openly throughout her testimony. She stated that Tolle called her at 1:38 p.m. on June 27, “He said, ‘your dad just shot a foot above my head’, I told him it was a warning shot and that he should stay away from Dad.” Goodwin said that Tolle had been a close family friend for decades. He had been staying at her father’s home until the two argued. She learned of her father’s death at 4:20 p.m. that afternoon.
Tolle also went to the home of Sharon Ann Lute, his former mother-in-law. Lute testified that Tolle asked her for a gun. He claimed that Charles “Duke” Brewer had shot at him. Lute said she advised him to “go on down the road and forget about it, and he said he thought he would.”
Tolle then went to the home of John Bays at Hillcrest Lane in Manchester. Bays stated that Tolle told him that “Duke” Brewer had shot at him after they’d had words. He said Tolle asked to borrow a gun so that he could shoot Brewer. Bays refused. He said that Tolle drank three beers and appeared to be calm when he left.
Tolle’s next stop was the home of George Bayless on Polk Street in Bentonville. Bayless testified that Tolle seemed nervous and upset. “He asked for a gun. When I asked him why he wanted a gun he said, ‘I’m going to go down and kill “Duke” Brewer’.” Bayless, who served on the Manchester Fire Department with Tolle for several years said, “I didn’t believe Shane would kill Duke, so I didn’t call the police. I didn’t take it seriously.” He asked for a beer to go, which Bayless gave him when he left around 3:30 p.m.
A life-long friend of Tolles, Roy Cooper, took the stand and testified that Tolle had called him and asked for a gun and said he was going hunting. “I didn’t give him a gun,” said Cooper, because I thought he’d kill himself.”
Later that day, however, another friend of Tolles, Jason Jones, did give him a gun, a Mossberg 12 gauge pump action shotgun. This was the weapon Tolle allegedly used to shoot and kill Brewer.
On Wednesday the case bogged down in physical evidence as the defense team attempted to punch holes in the prosecution’s case by drawing attention to possible discrepancies in crime logs and records of real time events. Judge Spencer requested that Prosecutor Kelley expedite the process, and he did so.
The trial is expected to last through Friday. At that time the case will be turned over to the jury following closing arguments.
The Defender will continue to closely follow and report on the proceedings in our next issue.