Wesley Earnest Trial and Retrial

Bedford Co., VA -{}The murder trial of the year ended up becoming two separate murder trials.

The case against former Heritage High School and Jefferson Forest educator Wesley Earnest finally came to a close on November 19, nearly three years after the death of his wife Jocelyn Earnest.

The first of Wesley Earnest's murder trails started in March. After two full weeks, the jury found him guilty of 1st Degree murder, recommending the maximum sentence of life in prison.

Earnest's mother Pat Wimmer disagreed with the verdict. "My son is innocent, I believe that in my heart. I love Jocelyn but my son did not murder this woman."

Three months later, Earnest would get another chance to argue his innocence. The judge in the case set aside the original verdict in July, after discovering the jury saw some of Jocelyn's journals, which had been ruled inadmissible.

"Nobody did anything intentional. If I had any suspect of that, there'd be somebody charged with obstruction of justice," Presiding Judge James Updike said in July.

The second trial moved to Amherst County with a Nelson County jury. They took nine days to return another guilty verdict.

"But twice now, a jury has spoken and in our system that means something," Randy Krantz said in November. "We believe justice was done, obviously we believed the jury reached the right verdict and set the right sentence."

"You know, in a situation like this, no one wins but we are happy for justice for Jocelyn," Jocelyn's sister Laura Rogers said.

Like the first trial, the second jury also recommended life in prison.

"As you see, Mr. Earnest ended up trying to be too smart for his own good," Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Wes Nance said.


To see the rest of the 2010 Year in Review stories, click here.