Suspect on Trial for Murder Has Violent Past

By: Lisa Ferrari Email
By: Lisa Ferrari Email

September 6, 2007

Murder suspect Irvin Fountain has a history of domestic violence the jury won't get to hear about. Fountain stands trial this week in Louisa County for the murder of 18-year-old Shantay Wheeler.

Not a month after Wheeler disappeared in Fluvanna County, Fountain was negotiating a plea deal with Albemarle County prosecutors. There, he had been charged with assaulting and abducting his wife.

In 2001, while police in Fluvanna and Louisa Counties were searching for Wheeler's killer, little did they know the man they would eventually arrest in her death was locked up in the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail on unrelated charges.

According to court documents in November of 2000 just around the time girlfriend Shantay Wheeler allegedly refused to abort their baby, Fountain assaulted and abducted his wife in Albemarle County.

The two lived at the Wilton Farms Apartments. That's where prosecutors say Fountain choked his wife so badly she spit up blood, and that Irvin Fountain then kidnapped her and drove down Route 20.

At the intersection of Routes 20 and 250, Mrs. Fountain was able to roll out of the car and run to a nearby gas station for help. Witnesses saw Fountain reverse in traffic and speed towards his wife.

It's disputed whether Fountain hit his wife or she fell, but Mrs. Fountain lost a tooth when Irvin Fountain's car struck her.

In a plea agreement, the Commonwealth agreed to a two year and nine month sentence, mainly because Mrs. Fountain was reluctant to prosecute.

Fountain reported to jail three months after Wheeler was killed. While in jail he made a phone call to a friend asking him to bury a dog he had killed. The jury in the Wheeler murder trial listened to a recording of that phone call, but they will not hear why Fountain was in jail.

Fountain was released from jail sometime in late 2003 and he was not charged with Wheeler's murder until July 2006.

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