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Man pleads guilty

David Slaven also agrees to testify when ex-wife's trial begins in April


A 32-year-old Letcher County man charged with helping to murder his landlord in August 2006 has agreed to spend the rest of life in prison and to testify against his exwife when she goes on trial in April.

Under an agreement reached this week between David Shawn Slaven, Slaven’s attorneys, and Letcher Commonwealth’s Attorney Edison G. Banks II, Slaven will plead guilty to complicity to murder, complicity to first-degree robbery, three counts of complicity to theft of more than $300 (including a firearm), and complicity to tampering with physical evidence for his role in the murder of 69-year-old Jackie Von Quillen, who was choked to death with a nylon strap.

In return for Slaven’s guilty plea and willingness to testify against exwife Misty Franks, whose trial is scheduled to begin April 28, Banks will recommend that Slaven be sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole or probation for at least 25 years. Banks also agreed to recommend that Slaven be sentenced to 20 years on the robbery charge, and to five years on each of the other charges.

Slaven’s decision to plead guilty and to testify against Franks comes as somewhat of a surprise. Although Slaven originally told investigators with the Letcher County Sheriff’s Department that it was Franks who choked Quillen with a nylon strap, he later tried to change his story and take full credit for the crime.

Authorities have always believed Slaven’s original story – that he was driving Quillen’s car from Deane to Craft’s Colly when Franks, who was seated behind Quillen, began choking him with a nylon strap. Investigators also believe Slaven was telling the truth when he told them that after he and Franks dragged Quillen to the former dam area of Snake Valley Lake, an old pay-to-fish lake in Craft’s Colly, Franks made sure Quillen was dead by using her foot to keep Quillen’s head submerged in a small pool of water while she smoked a cigarette.

The plea agreement Slaven and Banks signed on Monday was also approved by Letcher County Sheriff Danny Webb, who solved the case, and by Quillen’s surviving adult children. The agreement calls for Slaven to return to court tomorrow (Thursday) to make a “sworn video statement confirming that he did not act alone in the murder of Jackie Von Quillen.”

The agreement says Slaven’s statement must be “truthful, complete and accurate,” and that Slaven provide “the names of any and all parties having any role whatsoever in the murder, including the planning or commission of the murder, as well as provide any motive for such murder.”

The agreement says Slaven must also provide the names of “any and all parties who may have participated in the robbery of Quillen, the theft of his property, the removal and concealment of the body, and/or any attempt to conceal any of these several crimes.”

At the time he was murdered, Quillen was renting a small home to Slaven and Franks for $150 a month. Quillen was murdered on the day the first month’s rent was due.

When they were arrested three days after Quillen was reported missing, Slaven and Franks were living in a tent on a reclaimed mountaintop strip mine between the community of Thornton and the area of Craft’s Colly where Quillen’s body was found. Quillen’s white GEO autmobile was found hidden on the road leading to the mine site. A gun stolen from Quillen was recovered from where Slaven had hidden it in a Craft’s Colly home.

Slaven isn’t expected to be formally sentenced until after the trial of Misty Franks.


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