Update: Trial for man accused in Lyon sisters case now set for Sept. 12
- Rachel Mahoney
Feb 24, 2017
Update: BEDFORD — The trial of a man accused of abducting two girls from a Maryland shopping mall in the 1970s, killing them and disposing of their bodies in Bedford County, has been continued until September.
Lloyd Lee “Michael” Welch Jr. faces two murder charges in connection with the deaths of Sheila and Katherine Lyon, sisters who vanished during a trip to a Wheaton, Maryland, shopping mall in 1975. Sheila was 12 and Katherine, 10. Investigators claim after killing the girls, he disposed of their bodies in Bedford County.
On Friday, Welch’s defense attorneys asked to extend the April 18 trial date to Sept. 12, citing additional time needed to review materials in the case. In written motions, they said the case involves more than 29,000 electronic files, and “preparing for trial has been a monumental task.” They also stated prosecutors intend to seek the death penalty if Welch is convicted.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Wes Nance said the investigation into the case has continued past Welch’s indictment in 2015, and discovery from recent law enforcement activities has not yet been prepared. Defense attorneys cited a recent additional discovery in a motion dated Feb. 16.
Workers were on a Taylor’s Mountain site earlier this month, digging and panning through dirt at a site that’s been probed several times in the past. When asked about the effort on Feb. 9, officials cited a gag order.
On a 13-page list of items the prosecution has provided to Welch and his attorneys for the case, the ninth item listed is a “photo of recovered tooth from Taylor’s Mtn.”
Bedford County Circuit Judge James W. Updike Jr. continued the trial and also signed off on a motion to appoint a DNA analysis expert for the defense. Welch’s attorneys are looking to hire J. Thomas McClintock, founder of Lynchburg-based DNA Diagnostics Inc., for the case. The company performs forensic DNA testing and review, according to its website.
In a written motion, the defense states prosecutors have identified two DNA experts and will be producing DNA evidence at Welch’s trial.
Updike ruled in late January statements Welch made during interviews with investigators could be used against him in court, since he had changed his story and admitted he wasn’t being truthful during questioning. Updike also decided the death penalty would not be ruled out in the case.
Most recently, Updike has dismissed obstruction of justice charges against two of Welch’s female relatives; dropping the charge against Amy Ann Johnson on Jan. 10 and the charge against Gladys Stangee on Feb. 17. Nance had said the women cooperated in investigations.
Court records state more motions will be filed in the case.