OAKLAND — Megan Shaffer said fear of her former boyfriend led her to follow him, in her car, to High Rock, hold his hand while he jumped from a cliff, and hold a knife he used to kill himself.
Shaffer testified on the fourth day — giving what some folks said was her fourth rendition of events — of her murder trial in Garrett County Circuit Court on Friday.
Shaffer, 21, of Ridgeley, West Virginia, is charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter and assisting another to commit or attempt to commit suicide in the death of Alexander Stevens, 24, of Frostburg.
Stevens was found, naked, with his throat slashed and at the bottom of a cliff, known as High Rock, dead on Jan. 4 last year within the Savage River State Forest in Garrett County near Pine Swamp Road.
In December, Shaffer entered a not guilty plea to each count.
On Friday, she took the stand and answered questions from her attorney, Stephen R. Tully.
She said she met Stevens at a Ruby Tuesday restaurant where they worked in 2016.
"At first we had a little bit of a fling," Shaffer said and added she had sex with Stevens three times. "We never technically dated."
After having known each other for about three months, the two were friends when she spent the night with him at his Frostburg apartment Jan. 2, 2017.
When Tully asked her what happened the following morning, Shaffer began to talk in a high-pitched squeal and sobbed, her face red and tearless, throughout the testimony.
She said she was about halfway through her shower when Stevens got in behind her.
"To save water (maybe) I'm not sure," she said.
"He told me to put my hands on the wall," Shaffer said. "He started cutting me with a razor blade."
Shaffer said Stevens retraced the cuts and picked up "like a liter of isopropyl alcohol and poured it on my back."
Stevens "told me I needed to experience pain," Shaffer said.
She said Stevens told her to turn around and face him so she complied. Stevens then bent down and with the razor blade "he cut part of my (clitoris)," Shaffer said.
"I was frozen ... mortified," she said and added they got out of the shower and Stevens patted her dry.
"He told me to get dressed," she said. "Then we proceeded to go to my house, I believe."
Shaffer said her mother was home, but she didn't tell her what had happened with Stevens.
"I couldn't talk about," Shaffer said.
She collected items from her home, then went with Stevens to his family's house where he also gathered some things, including his mother's dog, which he put in a pet carrier, Shaffer said.
The couple drove to a local cemetery where Stevens left the dog in the carrier, Shaffer said.
"He said, 'don't worry, I'm coming back for it,'" Shaffer said.
Stevens drove them to his apartment, Shaffer got in her car and followed him to High Rock in Garrett County, she said.
"I was so afraid," Shaffer said. "So I just followed him."
They each parked across the road from the base of a mile trail that leads to High Rock. Stevens had with him his cat in a pet carrier and a knife he'd taken from his kitchen, Shaffer said.
"He told me ... we needed to be naked," Shaffer said and added she removed her clothes.
"He handed me the knife ... yeah, he handed me the knife," she said.
Stevens said "let's walk out" to the edge of the cliff, Shaffer said and added she went with him and they held hands.
"He says, 'ok we have to jump,'" Shaffer said. "He's holding my hand so tightly."
The two went over the cliff, she said.
"I remember feeling weightless," Shaffer said.
They were both injured, it was cold, rainy and windy, she said.
Stevens said they needed to start walking.
"I didn't know what to do myself," Shaffer said. "I felt like he was my opportunity to possibly save myself ... We walked for a while."
Under Tully's questioning, Shaffer said Stevens had told her he wanted to add her as a beneficiary to one of his investment accounts.
"I was a business major," she said. "I'm fairly good with numbers."
Then they resumed talk of the night Stevens died.
"He hands me the knife and he positions it in my right hand," Shaffer said. "I was deathly afraid of him."
Stevens fell forward on the knife.
"I pulled back in a reflex," she said.
Tully asked her how many times the knife swiped Stevens.
"I want to say three," Shaffer said.
"I dropped the knife and it was in the water," she said.
Stevens then had "involuntary twitches of the body," Shaffer said and added she laid on top of his lifeless body to stay warm.
She started walking at sunrise, found a house and made a 911 call, she said.
Shaffer's voice became calm, controlled, while she was questioned by Garrett County State’s Attorney Lisa Thayer Welch.
Welch asked Shaffer if she had told emergency responders and medical workers that she had not been sexually assaulted by Stevens.
"Yes," Shaffer said.
Welch also asked Shaffer if she had told a 911 dispatcher, paramedic and police that she fell from the cliff.
"Yes," Shaffer said.
Shaffer also said she didn't remember giving police a second of three statements. Recordings from all three statements -- in which Shaffer gives varying accounts of what happened at High Rock -- were played in court earlier in the week.
Prior to Shaffer's testimony, Tully brought in Jonathan Arden, a forensic pathologist, consultant and expert witness.
Arden said he agreed with Dr. Carol Allen, state assistant medical examiner whose office performed the autopsy on Stevens, that the cause of death was from sharp force injuries in the neck.
However, Arden, who examined photos of the body, autopsy and police reports, said he disagreed with Allen on the manner of death, which she said was homicide.
Shaffer's statements are consistent with "suicide," Arden said.
Garrett County Circuit Court Judge Raymond Strubin said closing arguments, followed by the jury deliberation, will be held Monday.
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Medical examiner, Dr. Carol Allen, discussed Alexander Stevens autopsy at Megan Shaffer murder trial: "This is not an injury ... Mr. Stevens could inflict on himself." pic.twitter.com/3pz2qMZZQI— Teresa McMinn (@teresamcminn1) March 15, 2018
Medical examiner at Megan Shaffer murder trial: Alex Stevens had "No characteristics of a suicidal cutting wound."— Teresa McMinn (@teresamcminn1) March 15, 2018
Medical examiner at Megan Shaffer murder trial: Injuries to Alexander Stevens neck required "significant force."— Teresa McMinn (@teresamcminn1) March 15, 2018
Medical examiner at Megan Shaffer murder trial on whether any drugs were found in Alex Stevens system: "Everything was negative" for substances.— Teresa McMinn (@teresamcminn1) March 15, 2018