Tazewell County Man Pleads Guilty To First Degree Murder

TAZEWELL, VA (WOAY) – Michael Lee Dennis, Tazewell County Commonwealth’s Attorney, announced today that Shaun Matthew Wakefield, age 35, entered a guilty plea to the First Degree Murder of Danielle Louise Pruett, Grand Larceny of a Motor Vehicle belonging to Ms. Pruett and one count of Concealing a Dead Body.


Wakefield was arrested on March 29, 2016, for the murder of Danielle Louise Pruett, who went missing on March 17, 2016. Danielle’s body was found off of Rt. 720 near Bluefield, VA, after an extensive search of various locations by local law enforcement officers approximately 24 hours after she was reported missing.


An autopsy report showed that Danielle Louise Pruett suffered injuries that were indicative of blunt force trauma, even though no weapon was ever found. Wakefield has been held without bond since his initial arrest.


At the time of the murder, Wakefield was on bond for a current felony charge of Larceny, Third or Subsequent Offense and was subsequently charged with altering a drug screen on March 18, 2016. He is currently on probation for convictions out of Alexandria, VA for Burglary, Larceny, Possession of a Firearm by a convicted felon and drug charges.      


Based on the continuing investigation surrounding the brutal murder of Danielle Louise Pruett, a young mother of three children, and meetings with her mother, Sonja Pruett, and sisters, Tonya DeGallery, Heather Church and Lauren “Nikki” Garnett, the decision was made to enter into the agreement which Wakefield pled guilty to on the 24th day of September 2018.


Wakefield was sentenced to a term of 70 years for the First Degree Murder charge, 10 years for Grand Larceny of a Motor Vehicle and 5 years for Concealing a Dead Body. Of that time, Wakefield will serve an active penitentiary sentence of 57 years which is effectively a life sentence as Wakefield is 35 years of age at the time of his sentencing.


 Wakefield will now be returned to Alexandria where he faces a probation violation which will result in additional time to serve.

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