There are no restrictions.Use Restrictions
There are no restrictions.Preferred Citation
Pulaski County (Va.) Commonwealth versus Stephen Matteson Epperly, 1980-1992 (bulk 1980). Local government records collection, Pulaski County Court Records. The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia 23219.Acquisition Information
The commonwealth cause and trial transcripts were loaned for microfilming by the Pulaski County clerk of circuit court. The microfilm was generated by OCLC through the Library of Virginia's Circuit Court Records Preservation Program under the accession number 43851. The case may also be viewed on microfilm at the Pulaski County courthouse.
The audio transcripts were loaned for preservation duplication by the Pulaski County clerk of circuit court. Preservation reformatting from audio cassette tape to CD-rom was completed as a result of a grant from the Circuit Court Records Preservation Program in January 2008. Library of Virginia patron use copies of the audio transcript CD-roms are copies of the Pulaski County CDs and came to the Library of Virginia under the accession number 43851.Descriptive Summary
Pulaski County (Va.) Commonwealth versus Stephen Matteson Epperly, 1980-1992 (bulk 1980), contains the commonwealth cause and audio transcripts of the trial of Stephen Matteson Epperly for the first-degree murder of Radford University student Gina Renee Hall in June 1980.
The bulk of the materials consists of pre-trial and trial motions, orders, and certificates. Included are the original grand jury indictment, the jury verdict and recommended sentence, lists of potential jurors, jury instructions, lists of exhibits, and various other correspondence related to evidence. Various other post-trial appeals correspondence, assignment of new attorneys for the appeal, requests for payment, appeals court opinions, and other correspondence about the case exists through 1992. Please consult the index at the beginning of the microfilm of the case for a list of the majority of the materials therein.
Missing from the case file at the time of microfilming were the arrest warrant dated 1980 Sept. 9 and all of the commonwealth's exhibits. The volumes of typed pre-trial and trial transcripts mentioned in the index to the case were also missing at the time of the original microfilming but have since been located by the Attorney General's office and subsequently microfilmed. Also missing is a petition by Epperly for a writ of habeas corpus after his appeal to the Virginia Supereme Court had failed. Additionally, the Central Criminal Records Exchange form dated 1980 Sept. 9 was microfilmed with Epperly's Social Security number redacted in order to comply with privacy restrictions.
Audio transcripts of the jury selection, opening statements, main body of the trial, closing statements, verdict, notice of appeal/court adjourns, and the sentencing hearing can be found on 34 CD-roms. Please consult the finding aid for a more detailed listing.
On the original audio cassette tapes of the Epperly case, inserted between the adjournment of the case and the Epperly sentencing hearing was the larceny trial of Jerry Eugene Ross. It has been deleted from the patron use cds of the Epperly trial because it contained an instance of a potential juror stating aloud a Social Security number.Historical Information
Stephen Matteson Epperly was the first man in Virginia and one of the first in the United States to be convicted of murder with no confession, body, or eyewitness. The case is considered a precedent-setting one. Eighteen year old Gina Renee Hall, a student at Radford University, disappeared in 1980 June after leaving a Blacksburg nightspot with a man. Evidence against Epperly included small amounts of blood and hair that matched Hall's and were found at the home of a friend of Epperly's on Claytor Lake in Pulaski County. He was convicted in 1980 December of first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison. Epperly's appeals received national attention when he challenged the expert testimony of a dog handler who claimed his dog tracked Epperly's trail from Hall's abandoned car to Epperly's home in Radford eight days after the crime. Appeals court rulings rejected Epperly's claim that the dog-tracking testimony tainted his trial. The courts also rejected Epperly's claim that the prosecutor interfered with a fair trial by improperly instructing police officers not to talk with defense attorneys. To date he has been unsuccessful in obtaining parole. Gina Hall's body has never been found.
Commonwealth's attorney for the case was Everett P. Shockley. Epperly's defense attorneys were Glenwood Lookabill and David Warburton though they were replaced for the appeals process.Arrangement
Microfilm of commonwealth cause is arranged chronologically by date the document was filed. An index to the majority of the documents is at the front of the cause. The microfilm of the transcripts is separate due to their later discovery. They are all filmed together and are in chronological order. Audio transcripts are arranged in the order of occurrence during the trial.Adjunct Descriptive Data
The original commonwealth cause and trial transcripts are on file at the Pulaski County courthouse (Record No. 810626; Circuit Court No. F-80.203). Patrons at the courthouse must use the microfilm version. The original audio cassette tapes are on file at the Pulaski County courthouse along with patron use CD-rom copies.Index Terms