News update: UVa-Wise junior charged with manslaughter following woman’s death

Editor’s note: Jahnae Foster was the mother of an 8-month-old girl. An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified the child’s gender. The post has been updated.

Updated: Nov. 29, 2012 | 11:53 a.m.

Felony charges against a now-suspended UVa-Wise football player have been upgraded following the Wednesday death of the woman police say he shot in the head.

Melquan Huntley, 21, was arrested Wednesday night and charged with involuntary manslaughter, according to Norton police Chief James Lane. He was arraigned this morning and remains in custody at Duffield Regional Jail.

Jahnae Foster, 18. Photo courtesy of Facebook
Jahnae Foster, 18. Photo courtesy of Facebook

Jahnae Foster, 18, died earlier Wednesday at Johnson City Medical Center after being removed from life support, said Alecia Holley, Foster’s mother.

Foster was shot in the forehead the night before Thanksgiving in Huntley’s Norton mobile home, police allege. According to a criminal complaint filed in court, Huntley told police that night the shooting was an accident.

Lane said Foster’s body would be taken to the medical examiner’s office in Roanoke for autopsy. He said the case was still “active and is still under investigation” and that more charges could be filed.

Holley said Foster died after at least one brain surgery and a struggle to survive.

“She was fighting,” Holley said. “She was still fighting when we was unplugging everything.”

Holley said they decided to remove Foster from life support after consulting with doctors who said her daughter was in significant pain.

“I don’t want her to have to go through that,” Holley said. “I love her enough to let her not go through any pain. He already put her through enough pain when he shot her in the head.”

This is a news update. See the Dec. 5 issue of The Highland Cavalier for complete coverage.


Posted: Nov. 28, 2012 | 11:48 a.m.

A junior UVa-Wise football player was charged Monday with shooting an 18-year-old woman in the head the night before Thanksgiving, officials said.

Melquan Huntley, 21. Photo courtesy
Melquan Huntley, 21. Photo courtesy

Melquan Shabazz Huntley, 21, was suspended Tuesday from the college’s football team and banned from campus, said college spokeswoman Kathy Still.

Huntley was charged with shooting within an occupied building and shooting a person in the commission of a felony, court records show. Both are class six felonies. He was released on a $50,000 unsecured bond and has an arraignment hearing in Wise County General District Court on Dec. 3.

Left severely wounded in the Nov. 21 shooting was Big Stone Gap resident Jahnae Foster, 18, who was taken to Norton Community Hospital and later airlifted to Johnson City Medical Center following the incident, according to arrest warrants filed in court. Her condition Wednesday was not immediately available.

Still said Huntley, a fullback on the Cavs roster, was suspended from the team pending the outcome of his charges. Dean of Students Jewell Worley also banned him from campus during that interim suspension.

Still said the college had not received any information that the administration of justice major was a threat to campus.

“We continue to ask everyone to keep Ms. Foster and her family in their thoughts and prayers during these difficult days,” she said.

Meanwhile, Huntley said in an email to The Highland Cavalier that the shooting was an “accident.”

“Nobody was trying to hurt no one,” he said.

Norton police Capt. Roger Cooke, the lead investigator in the incident, wrote in a criminal complaint filed in court that he was called to Huntley’s mobile home in the 600 block of Kentucky Avenue just after 11 p.m. on Nov. 21. Police have not said what originally drew them to the home.

They arrived to find Foster lying in a bed with an apparent gunshot wound to the right side of her forehead, the complaint says.

The court documents show Huntley appeared to give two different accounts of what happened that night.

Cooke wrote that Huntley agreed to speak with him even after being advised of his Miranda rights, saying the 9mm Glock pistol “fell as he was trying to put it in a cabinet and discharged.”

But pressed by Cooke for more details, Huntley said he was doing a “military cleaning” of the weapon when it fired. Huntley said he didn’t know the handgun was loaded.

At least one other person besides Huntley was in the room when Foster was shot, Cooke wrote.

“She [the witness] told me Melquan had brought the gun into the room to show them,” Cooke wrote. “She said she didn’t know exactly what happened to cause the gun to discharge.”

Another man, a UVa-wise sophomore, was in the mobile home but told officers he did not witness the shooting.

The Highland Cavalier is not naming either person because neither has been charged nor testified in court.

According to her Facebook page, Foster graduated this year from Norton’s John I. Burton High School and is the mother of an 8-month-old girl.

Court records do not yet list an attorney for Huntley.

“I never tried to hurt anybody and I wouldn’t never hurt anybody in that matter,” Huntley said in his email to the newspaper. “I’m sorry it happen (sic) but all I can do is keep God on my side and cross this milestone God has put in front of me.”

This is a news update. See the Dec. 5 issue of The Highland Cavalier for complete coverage.

Jordan Fifer

Interdisciplinary studies major Jordan Fifer served as The Highland Cavalier's editor-in-chief and online editor in the 2012-2013 academic year. He previously served as staff writer, news editor and photo editor.

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3 thoughts on “News update: UVa-Wise junior charged with manslaughter following woman’s death

  1. This is a lose/lose situation. The girls parents lost a daughter,grandaughter, sister and her daughter lost a mother. The boys family is going to lose a son, grandson, brother, etc….. Now Jahnae’s walk on this earth is over and Melquan has to live with this the rest of his life because of a poor choice he made. I’m praying for both of the families.

  2. I know Melquan and he would never hurt anyone.. it had to of been an accident and the fact that he did not flee the scene is point in fact itself.. unfortunately the young girl passed and manslaughter is in account.. God bless the victim and their family and Melquan

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