NEW: Murder Defendant's Defense Gets Boost
HARRISONBURG — A Harrisonburg man accused of killing a man on Christmas Eve will get a boost to his defense team.
Delano Fitz, 28, is charged with four felony counts: first-degree murder, possession of a weapon as a convicted felon, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, and possession of a firearm as a convicted felon.
During a hearing in Rockingham County Circuit Court Tuesday, Judge Bruce Albertson approved a defense motion requesting funds for a private investigator and a ballistics expert.
Fitz’s defense attorney, Aaron Graves, said the ballistics expert will be important at trial.
Fitz has claimed self-defense.
“That’s going to be crucial,” Graves told Albertson, adding the expert plans to testify at trial. “We’ll be presenting evidence that will be important for the jury to understand.”
Albertson approved $1,000 for the expert.
The judge also approved $1,200 for an investigator, although Graves asked for $6,500.
Graves said the investigator, who charges $60 per hour, will mostly be used to locate and interview witnesses.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Clark Ritchie told the judge he had no problem with an investigator being hired, but said there should be a review process and funds handed out in smaller increments if needed.
“If you need more, you can put it on the docket [for review],” Albertson said.
Fitz’s is scheduled for a five-day jury trial to begin on Aug. 25.
On Dec. 24, police say, Fitz shot and killed Traman Turner after Turner arrived at his ex-girlfriend's Harrisonburg home to pick up his three children.
Police say Fitz shot Turner, 27, at least four times in the parking lot of his former girlfriend's townhome on Commerce Drive. At least three shots hit Turner in his back, according to police; medical examiners are still trying to determine whether the fourth shot struck him in the back or entered his chest.
During a previous hearing in the case, witness testimony suggested that Fitz — the boyfriend of Turner’s ex-girlfriend at the time of the shooting — felt it was a sign of disrespect for Turner to pick up the children while he was at the home.
Police say the two men then argued in the parking lot outside the townhome before shots were fired.
The woman at the center of the dispute, Edasha Williams, initially told police that Turner was the aggressor, but later testified Fitz was the one who started the altercation.
Fitz is being held at Rockingham County Jail without bond.