The Shaffers' son, Rodney Shaffer Jr., told police that Lester said a .22-caliber, scoped rifle bought from the Shaffers was used to kill Patton, Meadows and Carrier, according to Cooper.
Assistant Prosecutor Don Morris asked Cooper to explain how Gary Carrier and Okey Meadows were connected to Shawn Lester.
Cooper said that about the time the engine was stolen, Carrier told his sister that he was going up Campbells Creek and came back with some pink meth. A friend of Carrier's, James Callaway, also saw Carrier's pink meth.
The two told police that Carrier began to be very afraid after that, and traded in his green Chevrolet Camaro for a junk car, Cooper testified.
Another witness interviewed by police, Alisha Raimey, told police that Lester had said Meadows owed him money, Cooper said.
Also Monday, a man who was incarcerated with Lester at South Central Regional Jail testified that Lester discussed and eventually admitted to the sniper shootings.
Charles Darren Roberts, who met Lester in April, told Chief Assistant Prosecutor Maryclaire Akers that Lester asked him how lifers were treated at the penitentiary and said he was going to admit to the killings.
Roberts testified that he asked Lester why he killed them, and Lester said if he wouldn't have killed the three of them, Lopez would have killed him.
"What would you do if you had a Mexican named Tito on you?" Roberts said Lester asked him.
In a heated cross-examination, Castelle suggested Roberts was trying to get charges against him dismissed.
"I could have got out of my charges anyway," Roberts said.
"You're telling us he came up to you, a total stranger, and told you he killed them?" Castelle said.
"We got kind of close in there, to be honest with you," Roberts said.
Castelle repeatedly asked Roberts if he had ever heard of prisoners giving information to the police to lessen their sentence or to be freed from their charges. Roberts said he hadn't.
"Have you ever heard the term jailhouse snitch?" Castelle asked, to Akers' immediate objection.
After Monday's testimony, Castelle told Shelton that after eight years and the efforts of hundreds of investigators, the prosecution had a case based on "not just unreliable sources but inherently unreliable sources."
Why, Castelle asked, did Lester shoot Patton, Carrier and Meadows but not Marty Walker, whom police believe stole the engine?
"You have two scenarios," Castelle said. "This convoluted theory of the state that Shawn Lester shot, not the person that stole the engine, but the wife of the person that stole the engine and two nearly unrelated people.
"On the other hand you have [Lester's] simple consistent assertions for eight years that he had nothing to do with it."
After the hearing, Jeanie Patton's sister, Karen Mance, called the hearing the "first day of justice" for her sister.
"They did not have to kill her," Mance said, sobbing in the hallway. "She never would have hurt anyone. They could have spared her life. ... I wish this wasn't real."
Reach Gary Harki at gha...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.