BUCKHANNON – The trial of a woman charged with solicitation of murder began Tuesday in Upshur County Circuit Court.
Jaymie Wright was indicted in January 2022 and faces one count of solicitation of murder for allegedly attempting to have someone kill her husband.
The case was previously delayed and three of the four felony charges were dropped. The trial on the single remaining charge commenced April 18 at the Upshur County Courthouse, where special prosecuting attorney Savannah Wilkins laid out her opening arguments.
“You’re going hear from six witnesses on behalf of the state today,” Wilkins said. “This case is basically about the relationship between Jaymie, the defendant, and her husband Zech, the alleged victim.”
Wilkins also clarified the definition of solicitation of murder for the jury, which she said is when “a person intentionally and willfully knowingly instigates or induces another to commit an act of violence against a third person, a felony crime of violence.”
Wilkins outlined the witnesses that would be testifying on behalf of the state, including Brandon Daff, the person Wright allegedly asked to shoot her husband.
“I expect him to testify that Jaymie Wright provided him a firearm that belonged to her husband Zech and asked Brandon to kill Zech and make it look like a suicide,” Wilkins said.
She told the jury they would also hear from Michelle Tomey, a friend of Jaymie’s who was previously in a relationship with Brandon Daff.
“You’re going to hear about her observations throughout this time period,” Wilkins said. “She’s going to tell you that she was aware of this plan and that she saw a firearm that was provided to Brandon Daff.”
Jerry Daff, the father of Brandon Daff, would also be called to testify to the location of the firearm after it was allegedly given to Brandon Daff.
“The firearm was then taken to Jerry Daff, who put it in a safe so it wouldn’t be in the wrong hands, and nothing would happen to it,” Wilkins said.
Other state witnesses included the alleged victim, Zech Wright; his mother, Roberta Grey; and Special Agent Steve Worthy with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The defense also presented opening arguments Tuesday, saying the case essentially comes down to the testimony of one person. Defense attorney Tom Dyer asked the jury to pay close attention during the proceedings, particularly to Daff’s testimony.
“I’m confident when you listen to the evidence, you’re going to discover there’s not a lick of truth to the story this first young man is going to tell you,” Dyer said. “I’m here to ask you to pay close attention; the information you’re going to hear is rather random and disjointed.”
He also asked the jury to keep an open mind about the case.
“The very first witness is going to be what this case is all about, a young man named Brandon, he’s going to tell you a story, and that’s the state’s entire case.”
The state rested its case after presenting all its witnesses April 18, and the defense will make its case beginning April 19. More information will be available as the trial continues.