Murder Suspect Appears in Court for Brief Hearing

The West Virginia man accused of murdering an Aldie auto repair shop owner just over the Loudoun County line was in Clarke County General District Court for a brief hearing this morning.

Dale Lee Wright, 50, is charged in the March 17 shooting death of 72-year-old Bluemont resident Jeffrey B. Evans. That morning, Wright is alleged to have shot Evans when the two met in a gravel lot off Rt. 7 just across Shenadoah River. According to police reports, the two had arranged a meeting to discuss a business transaction, the details of which have not been released.

Wednesday morning’s hearing focused solely on who will serve as legal counsel to Wright as he faces two charges—first degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

This morning, Judge Amy Tisinger referenced an April 24 letter sent to her by local defense attorney Howard Manheimer, who was previously appointed to serve as Wright’s legal counsel. He asked to be removed as counsel citing a conflict, and Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Daniel Morgan did not object.

Tisinger asked Wright whether he wished to hire his own attorney or have the court appoint him one should he meet income requirements. He asked for a court-appointed attorney. After answering several financial questions, where he indicated that he had been unemployed for several months prior to the incident and was also in debt and behind in child support, Tisinger said Wright met the threshold to be appointed an attorney. She said she planned to make some calls to find him an attorney with prior experience representing individuals charged with serious crimes.

Tisinger noted that the Clarke County Public Defender’s Office had also previously indicated a conflict with representing Wright. The nature of that and Manheimer’s conflicts were not disclosed.

Wright will be back in court June 12 on a progress hearing regarding his legal counsel. He remains held without bond at the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center.

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