<em>This is the fourth in a five-day series marking the fifth anniversary of the murder of Skylar Neese by two of her friends, Shelia Eddy and Rachel Shoaf. Today\u2019s story highlights court hearings and the two killers heading to jail.<\/em>\r\n<u><\/u><u><\/u>\r\n\r\nMORGANTOWN \u2014 In 2013, two teenage killers, Rachel Shoaf and Shelia Eddy, were charged with the killing of Skylar Neese. But that wasn\u2019t made public right away.<u><\/u><u><\/u>\r\n\r\nShoaf and Eddy were juveniles, meaning prosecutors couldn\u2019t share information related to the case, as they were bound by state law. Information, as well as court proceedings, had to stay confidential.<u><\/u><u><\/u>\r\n\r\n<strong>Monongalia Court Security Tim Pocius:<\/strong>\u00a0When they were first charged, they were charged as juveniles, which left the public completely out and that was a fight. It always leaked out when one of them was showing up for a hearing when they were still considered juveniles. And we had to push people on the streets. I had people trying to take pictures of them.<u><\/u><u><\/u>\r\n\r\n<strong>Current Prosecuting Attorney Prosecutor Perri Jo DeChristopher:<\/strong>\u00a0It\u2019s a criminal offense to discuss a person who was charged as a juvenile. So that made it difficult, because the community really was constantly asking about that case. We need to know, we want to know, and to the community it was an unsolved crime. So we would have liked to have let them know more, but we were bound by the laws of juvenile prosecutions, no matter what kind of charge it is.\r\n<u><\/u><u><\/u>\r\n\r\n<em>Eventually, the public learned the two girls faced life in prison for killing their friend.<\/em><u><\/u><u><\/u>\r\n\r\n<em>Shoaf pleaded guilty to second-degree murder during a May 2013 hearing, in which her case moved to adult status.<\/em><u><\/u><u><\/u>\r\n\r\n<em>Eddy went through a more typical criminal procedure as she was indicted September 2013 for first-degree murder. That meant she had public court appearances, and Neese family and friends could sit feet away from the person accused of killing Skylar.<\/em><u><\/u><u><\/u>\r\n\r\n<strong>Dad Dave Neese:<\/strong>\u00a0I remember looking at Shelia and she looked over at me and smiled. \u2026 I got up and left the courtroom. I said \u201cGary, [White, Monongalia County Court security administrator], she is trying to piss me off.\u201d He replied, \u201cDon\u2019t let her. [Circuit Court Judge Russell] Clawges will throw you out of here in a minute.\u201d<u><\/u><u><\/u>\r\n\r\nI said, \u201cI want to go after them right now.\u201d He replied, \u201cIf you do, you will not be allowed back in.\u201d<u><\/u><u><\/u>\r\n\r\nThat is what kept me half-sane. But, yeah, she looked right at me and smiled, and I thought, \u201cYou little witch. How can you sit there and smile? You killed your best friend and you think it\u2019s funny. You think this whole thing is funny?\u201d She does, she thinks this whole thing is a game. That\u2019s how sick she is.<u><\/u><u><\/u>\r\n\r\n<em>In January 2014, Shelia appeared in a packed courtroom and sobbed as she pleaded guilty to first-degree murder. Because of the nature of the plea, Clawges was left little sentencing discretion and sentenced her to prison for life. Eddy will be parole eligible after 15 years.<\/em><u><\/u><u><\/u>\r\n\r\n<em>The next month, Shoaf appeared in a courtroom where every seat was filled for her sentencing for second-degree murder.<\/em><u><\/u><u><\/u>\r\n\r\n<strong>Monongalia County Circuit Court Judge Russell Clawges:<\/strong>\u00a0There was a lot of emotion and there were a lot of feelings. Of course, I certainly don\u2019t want to minimize the Neese family and the loss they suffered. At the same time, you had three families destroyed by this process. What I perceived is that yes, there was a lot of emotions and two-thirds or three-fourths of the emotion I felt in the courtroom was connected with the victim\u2019s family. But there were a lot of people there that were associated with the defendants.<u><\/u><u><\/u>\r\n\r\n<strong>DeChristopher:<\/strong>\u00a0The anticipation over what either of the defendants would say was palpable in that room. Wanting to know if they would either give a statement about the facts, or if they would agree with our factual basis that we are required to lay out for a guilty plea. So I think everybody was waiting for that very moment in the plea and \u2026 as we are leading up to that very moment in the pleas, you could just feel that building. I think that their agreement, and their agreement to the facts, and their speaking the words out loud \u2014 when the judge asked, \u201cHow do you plea,\u201d speaking the words \u201cguilty\u201d \u2014 I think everybody had a knowing sigh \u2014 I don\u2019t want to say of relief, but a sigh of confirmation.<u><\/u><u><\/u>\r\n\r\n<strong>Former Prosecutor Marcia Ashdown:<\/strong>\u00a0It was just draining. Just draining. To see Mary and Dave each time and their extended families was just painful. You\u2019re kind of in the room and it feels like the air goes out of it.<u><\/u><u><\/u>\r\n\r\n<em>Those hearings also caused headaches for court staff. The hearings were live-streamed so the public and media members could see the events unfold. Court security personnel had to watch the entire room.<\/em><u><\/u><u><\/u>\r\n\r\n<em>Neese\u2019s family and friends were in the courtroom. There were family of Shoaf and Eddy in the room. There was the public. It all had to be balanced, with the need to conduct serious criminal justice business.<\/em><u><\/u><u><\/u>\r\n\r\n<em>It went off without a noticeable hitch.<\/em><u><\/u><u><\/u>\r\n\r\n<strong>Clawges:<\/strong>\u00a0The issues that creates are basically twofold. One is the obvious security interest that comes anytime you\u2019ve got that high-profile of a case \u2026 you\u2019ve got emotions and the emotions are running high. And that was a concern. I thought the bailiffs and sheriff\u2019s office did a really good job controlling that.<u><\/u><u><\/u>\r\n\r\nOf course, then the secondary is people getting mouthy in the courtroom or outbreak. And the thing there, and the same thing I did in any high-profile case, is I make sure the ground rules are laid out and understood at the beginning. The people that are there are welcome to be there. They are public proceedings.<u><\/u><u><\/u>\r\n\r\n<strong>White:<\/strong>\u00a0We always planned for the worst and prayed for the best. Honestly we didn\u2019t know who to watch. But, I mean, we watched everybody. You hear things from the street, so you know who to zero in on. Here, there were just so many people that it was very stressful for us.<u><\/u><u><\/u>\r\n\r\nOur job is the safety and security of each and every person in that building, whether it\u2019s the victims and their family or the defendants and their families. And we can\u2019t, as much as we would like to, we can\u2019t break away from that. We have to be non-partial. It\u2019s hard sometimes. It\u2019s hard. In that case, it was really hard for me. But we\u2019ve got a job to do and you can\u2019t let your emotions get the best of you. Because if you do, then you forget about everything you\u2019re focused on.<u><\/u><u><\/u>\r\n\r\n<strong>Clawges:<\/strong>\u00a0Everything was coming in sequenced and almost choreographed, and that was largely through the organization of Marcia Ashdown and her office and working with defense attorneys to allow the process to be orderly. And allow it not to be disruptive and allow it to proceed and, in that sense, allowed it to happen smoothly.<u><\/u><u><\/u>\r\n\r\n<strong>Ashdown:<\/strong>\u00a0You have to be methodical in trying to say the right things at the right moment and have the right kind of gravity and use the best words you can to convey, not just the facts, but what should happen to those defendants.<u><\/u><u><\/u>\r\n\r\n<em>On Feb. 26 2014, Rachel Shoaf said, \u201cI\u2019m so sorry\u201d in an open court, the first time the public heard any remorse from either killer. She later added, \u201cI hurt the Neese family as well as Skylar.\u201d<\/em><u><\/u><u><\/u>\r\n\r\n<strong>Mary Neese:<\/strong>\u00a0Waste of my time.<u><\/u><u><\/u>\r\n\r\n<strong>Dave Neese:<\/strong>\u00a0Her lawyer told her to do it.<u><\/u><u><\/u>\r\n\r\nShe\u2019s not sorry for what she did or she wouldn\u2019t have done it.<u><\/u><u><\/u>\r\n\r\n<strong>DeChristopher:<\/strong>\u00a0As a prosecutor, you become a little bit suspicious of those statements at sentencing. Because part of that can be true remorse and empathy for the family, but part of it can be her realization of what she has done to herself. And so I take all those with a grain of salt.<u><\/u><u><\/u>\r\n\r\n<em>At the end of the 2014 court proceedings, Eddy and Shoaf learned their immediate and long-term futures would include prison. Shoaf was sentenced to 30 years in prison and Eddy life with possible parole after 15 years. They are both housed in Lakin Correctional Center in West Columbia. Eddy has an earliest parole date of May 2028, while Shoaf\u2019s is May 2023.<\/em><u><\/u><u><\/u>\r\n\r\n<strong>Ashdown:<\/strong>\u00a0There was a lot of relief. The morbidness and the sadness of it never went away and has never gone away. At least there was relief that there were results that we could feel pretty comfortable with.<u><\/u><u><\/u>\r\n\r\n<strong>Dave Neese:<\/strong>\u00a0It\u2019s still \u201cWhy?\u201d And it\u2019s also, look how many lives are ruined. Their parents didn\u2019t wake up one morning and say \u201cHmmm, I want my girl to be a killer.\u201d There is no way a parent could have been prepared for something like that.<u><\/u><u><\/u>\r\n\r\n<em>Tara Clendenen, Shelia\u2019s mother, told The Dominion Post that the last five years have been difficult, but declined to talk further, saying she was advised not to comment. The Shoaf family did not respond to a similar request.<\/em><u><\/u><u><\/u>\r\n\r\n<em>Since their incarceration, The Dominion Post wrote to Shelia and Rachel several times to provide an opportunity for them to talk about the case. But, the newspaper has never heard back from either.<\/em><u><\/u><u><\/u>\r\n\r\n<em>Dave and Mary said they have thoughts about how both families should have handled the killing and the days and weeks after. They said the Shoaf family sent them an apology letter. The Clendenens have not. Recently, Dave said Eddy\u2019s family sent them jewelry that originally belonged to Skylar years ago.<\/em><u><\/u><u><\/u>\r\n\r\n<strong>Dave Neese:<\/strong>\u00a0Sent us the necklace back \u2014 four-and-half-years later.