W.Va. teen sentenced to 30 years in friend's death

| Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, 11:45 a.m.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A West Virginia teenager was sentenced Wednesday to 30 years in prison for her role in her friend's death.

Rachel Shoaf, 17, apologized before being sentenced in Monongalia County Circuit Court. She pleaded guilty last May to second-degree murder in the July 2012 death of 16-year-old Skylar Neese.

Media outlets report Judge Russell Clawges ordered Shoaf to serve her sentence in a state prison, denying a defense request to sentence her as a juvenile. She will remain in a juvenile facility until her 18th birthday.

Co-defendant Shelia Eddy, 18, was sentenced Jan. 24 to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 15 years for first-degree murder.

According to court records, Neese was lured from her home, stabbed to death and her body left in the woods. Prosecutors never divulged a motive. Shoaf told police the girls no longer wanted to be friends with Neese.

“I never thought this would actually happen,” Shoaf said in court. “I became caught up in something I didn't want to do. I'm so sorry and I pray each day for everyone involved and I pray each day for forgiveness”.

Wearing an orange prison suit, Shoaf lowered her head and wiped her tears with a tissue as the victim's father, David Neese, and an uncle spoke at the sentencing.

“Rachel Shoaf murdered my daughter in cold blood,” David Neese said in asking the judge to sentence Shoaf to the maximum 40 years. “She can take her apologies and sit on them.”

Eddy and Skylar Neese had been friends since grade school, and the pair went to the beach together in the weeks before the slaying.

During Eddy's sentencing, Monongalia County Prosecutor Marcia Ashdown said Eddy and Shoaf began to distance themselves from Neese out of fear that their own friendship would dissolve. If that were to happen, Eddy and Shoaf worried that Skylar Neese would “divulge their secrets,” Ashdown said without elaborating.

Ashdown said the pair hatched a plan to pick up Skylar Neese by car after she returned home from work the night of July 5, 2012, arming themselves with kitchen knives concealed in their clothes. They also brought a shovel and clean clothes.

Prosecutors say Shoaf and Eddy lured Skylar Neese out of her ground-floor bedroom in Star City, drove her to a secluded spot near the unincorporated West Virginia community of Macdale, then stabbed her to death at an agreed-upon moment.

Court records show the girls covered the body of the University High honors student with branches. Ashdown said Neese's body wasn't buried because Eddy and Shoaf couldn't dig into the hard ground at the time. The body lay in a wooded area across the Pennsylvania border, in Wayne Township in Greene County, for months.

The break in the case came in January 2013, when Shoaf told investigators where to find the body.

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