Bedford Co., VA - It's a brutal crime that left a beloved store owner fighting for his life and a community in Bedford County shaken.
Tuesday Jason Shell pleaded no contest to three charges related to the robbery and beating of 81-year-old Bob Terry in 2011. Shell will spend 18 years in prison. Terry supports this deal. This agreement not only keeps him from having to endure a lengthy trial, it also ensures Jason Shell will be locked up. That might not have been the case had this gone to trial.
If you want to see Bob Terry, you have to go to his country store.
"I'd rather be here than down there," said Terry.
Terry was noticeably absent from this courtroom. He says he didn't need to see Jason Shell pleading no contest. Shell is the man prosecutors believe jumped Terry from behind and stole his gun in an attempt to rob him for drug money. Terry never saw Shell's face as he was closing his store the night of October 1, 2011.
"You had an unwitnessed robbery. The victim could not identify his assailant. There was no forensic evidence to connect the assailant with the scene," said Commonwealth's Attorney Randy Krantz.
Krantz also admits he didn't have credible witnesses lined up to testify against Shell. Two people who say they have knowledge of Shell attacking Terry have both been arrested on heroin charges.
"They become suspects. If not in the actual assault in the planning and participation of the robbery. Our first goal was to get a violent offender off the streets. My concern was that the risk of acquittal given the nature of the witnesses we had and the lack of forensic evidence in this case," said Krantz.
"If you went the long way with a jury or something, you never know what could happen," said Terry.
Now as Shell heads to prison, for Terry it's business as usual.
"It's just like something that happened and then I forget about it. It doesn't bother me anymore," said Terry.
The Commonwealth's Attorney tells us they will continue to follow up on any leads in this case and if others are found to be involved, those individuals could also face charges. Terry says his neighbors do come out to watch him when he locks up at night.