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W.Va. girl pleads guilty in slaying of fellow teen

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By The Associated Press
Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 7:39 p.m.
 

MORGANTOWN — A 16-year-old Morgantown girl pleaded guilty to second-degree murder Wednesday, and another girl is charged in the stabbing death of a Star City teenager last summer.

Rachel Shoaf agreed to plead as an adult, U.S. Attorney William Ihlenfeld said. She appeared Wednesday in Monongalia County Circuit Court and is in custody until sentencing.

The plea deal offers no insight into the motive for the slaying but says Shoaf inflicted the fatal wounds on 16-year-old Skylar Neese, an honors student at University High School.

Neese's remains were found in Wayne Township in Greene County in January, about 30 miles from her family's home.

Prosecutors plan to recommend a 20-year sentence for Shoaf and indicate they will oppose any move to have her sentenced as a juvenile.

Shoaf's family issued a statement through Morgantown attorney David Straface, apologizing to Neese's family.

“There is no way to describe the pain that we, too, are feeling,” they said. “We are truly sorry for the pain that she has caused the Neese family, and we know her actions are unforgiveable and inexcusable. Our daughter has admitted her involvement, and she has accepted responsibility for her actions.

“Our hearts are broken for your loss, and we are still trying to come to terms with this event,” they said. “We pray that we all will find peace in our hearts and the strength to move forward.”

Ihlenfeld said a second teenager is in custody, but authorities haven't named her or said what she's being charged with.

The recovery of Neese's body led to changes in West Virginia's Amber Alert process.

Legislators recently passed “Skylar's Law” so Amber Alerts are not limited to kidnappings. It requires law enforcement officials to relay initial reports of any missing child to state police, who then contact the Amber Alert system.

Amber Alert personnel would then decide whether to issue an alert.

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