Jury Declares Jeremy Derby Not Guilty
Jeremy Seth Derby, 34, was acquitted of eight sexually-based offenses on Tuesday, Oct. 4, after approximately an hour of deliberations by a jury of his peers.
Derby had been indicted by the January 2015 grand jury and was charged with two counts of sexual assault in the second degree, four charges of sexual abuse by a custodian, and two charges of sexual abuse in the first degree. All of these offenses had allegedly taken place between Aug. 1, 2010, and Aug. 31, 2011.
Testimony was heard from several individuals late Monday afternoon and early Tuesday morning. Besides the alleged victim, jurors also heard from the alleged victim’s mother, a friend of the alleged victim, Sergeant Charles Kush of the West Virginia State Police, and Sergeant Jeff Shriver of the WVSP.
Tension was thick as Prosecutor Karl “Worthy” Paul took to the podium to describe how Jeremy Seth Derby allegedly sexually assaulted a young girl while in a relationship with her mother.
Derby’s lawyer, Robert McCoid, refuted the accusations on the basis that the alleged victim had a troubled past, her story was very contradictive in nature, and there was a lack of evidence.
The alleged victim took to the witness stand to share her story with the jury. She described how Derby had lived at her and her mother’s residence. At night, Derby would supposedly be reading a bedtime story to her but instead was making advances. The alleged victim said Derby told her that he would help her get the attention of a boy she liked; however, to receive Derby’s advice, the alleged victim had to do certain things.
The alleged victim spoke of how Derby had inappropriate contact with her. She claimed her mother would be close by, such as in the living room or watching television, but was unaware of what was going on. She claimed Derby had told her not to tell anyone of the contact. So instead, she burned all the clothing and kept silent for years, due to fear Derby would harm her or her mother.
It wasn’t until she confessed to a former crush years later that any of these allegations had come to light. The events stopped when Derby moved out of the house after separating from the alleged victim’s mother, ending an approximate one year relationship.
Defense Attorney McCloid questioned the alleged victim by working over some of the claims in her testimonies. The alleged victim had told another individual that the events occurred over a course of three to four years; however, McCoid argued, Derby was only in a relationship with the mother for one year.
Also, the alleged victim claimed that the events happened every night Derby stayed over. The defense brought out a model of the residence, stating that there was a direct line of sight with the alleged victim’s bedroom door.
Also part of the defense was the argument that issues had arisen between the mother and daughter to the point that the mother put her daughter in counseling for her attitude. And it wasn’t until the daughter was in counseling that she spoke of the claims against Derby to her former crush. The crush told the alleged victim that if she did not go to the police with the information, then he would.
When asked by McCoid if Derby had ever been violent with her, the alleged victim replied “no.”
Prosecutor Paul then summoned First Sgt. Charlie Kush, of the West Virginia State Police, who testified that he had questioned Derby after the incident and that Derby had denied all allegations. Kush also mentioned that Derby was not under arrest at the time and therefore could freely leave the questioning at any time. While being questioned, Derby’s responses changed from never having contact with the alleged victim to the alleged victim exposing herself to Derby and making advances toward him. Kush said that during the questioning Derby even got sick to the point of dry heaving over the allegations.
Defense Attorney McCoid began questioning Kush to enforce the fact Derby was not obligated to answer the questions during the police investigation but did so freely and willingly, arguing that Derby had nothing to hide. McCoid also argued that during Derby’s statement to Kush, he had admitted that the alleged victim had initiated contact and Derby had even told the mother about the incident.
The mother of the alleged victim was called to the stand where she testified that she and Derby had dated for about a year, and Derby had basically lived with the family during this time. She admitted that her daughter had never mentioned anything to her about sexual assault during the time that Derby was living with them. However, Derby had never mentioned anything about her daughter exposing herself to him either. She told that Derby would go back to her daughter’s room to read at night. She said she felt she had no reason to suspect anything.
The defense focused on the claim that the alleged victim had previously stated that she was never left alone with Derby. It was argued that the mother even mentioned that she could see her daughter’s bedroom door while watching TV from the living room and she checked on them from time to time and never saw an evidence of anything going on.
Next, Paul called the alleged victim’s former crush to the stand where he stated that the alleged victim had confessed that Derby had sexually assaulted her and “she was scared of Jeremy because he was violent” and “hit her with the back of the hand.”
The defense then called Sgt. Jeff Shriver of the WVSP; he mentioned that he had never gained any additional evidence after the original statements were given.
The final witness was the alleged victim again, and when asked if she had mentioned any physical violence to her crush she replied “no.” When asked if Derby was ever violent with her, she replied “no” and claimed she never told her crush of any violence.
At this point Judge Hummel addressed the jury and urged them to take in all information and testimony heard to make a decision based on what they feel is the truth. He urged them that there has to be proof beyond a reasonable doubt before making any kind of a decision. After roughly an hour of deliberation, the jury had reached their unanimous decision and declared Jeremy Seth Derby not guilty on all eight counts. He was released of his bond.
“Jeremy Derby has been through a lengthy ordeal which has been very costly from both a financial and emotional standpoint,” stated Robert McCoid after the trial. “He was facing a de facto life sentence of 62-140 years had he been convicted, so the consequences of the case were monumental. Both Mr. Derby and I believe that justice was served and are grateful to the court and especially to the jury for ensuring that a fair and just verdict resulted from this trial. The system works,” McCoid concluded.