Although the probable cause affidavit indicates that King and Gray beat Hall over a several hour period before they dumped his naked body in a ditch along a secluded farm road, the prosecutor charged King and Gray with both murder and voluntary manslaughter. The latter charge requires the accused to have acted under a sudden heat. Indiana's criminal law says that a person charged with murder cannot be offered bail when the proof is evident or the presumption strong.
Chief Deputy Prosecutor Amy Travis attempted to offer at Tuesday's hearing videotaped statements both King and Gray gave to police as evidence opposing King's request for bail. Even though King's attorney asked for and got a speedy trial setting his client's jury trial date for June 21, less than a month away and no more than 60 days from the date of his client's arrest, King's attorney had not yet seen this videotape evidence. This led Judge Vance to continue the bail hearing until June 4. As Aubrey Woods of the Seymour Tribune reports on this week's hearing:
Jackson Circuit Court Judge Bill Vance continued a bail hearing Tuesday morning for an 18-year-old man accused of beating a Crothersville man to death in April.
That delay was created after county Chief Deputy Prosecutor Amy Travis attempted to present videotapes into evidence as part of her case for why Vance should not set bail for Coleman M. King. The videotapes were recorded by police during interviews with King, Garret L. Gray and James Robert Hendricks.
King is accused of beating Aaron C. “Shorty” Hall to death on the night of April 12 or in the early morning hours of April 13. The two men had been drinking beer and whiskey at the home of Gray, 19, at 6420 S. 1025E, Crothersville, according to court documents. Both King and Gray face murder and voluntary manslaughter charges. Hendricks, 21, Paris Crossing, is accused of helping dump Hall’s body in a ditch south of Crothersville.
King’s attorney, Joe Payne of Austin, told Vance he had not seen any of the tapes.
Travis said she just received the videotapes on Monday and had not had time to make copies for Payne but would do so.
Vance agreed to review the tapes of the interviews of Gray and Hendricks and said he would review the tape of Coleman’s interview if Payne has no objection once Payne has a chance to review it.
Vance also agreed to resume the hearing at 8 a.m. June 4.
Coleman’s jury trial is set to begin at 8:30 a.m. June 21 after Payne earlier requested a speedy trial for his client.
Gray faces a jury trial at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 16 in circuit court and is being held without bond, and Hendricks remains in jail as well on a $25,000 bond.
I can't help but ask these questions:
- Why did King's attorney request an early trial date of June 21 when he hasn't even yet seen critical evidence which will be offered--namely the videotaped statement his client gave to police?
- Why is King's attorney attempting to bail him out of jail when he is scheduled to go to trial on murder charges less than a month away?
- Why are King and Coleman being tried separately?
- Why did the prosecutor even charge King and Coleman with voluntary manslaughter when the police's own probable cause affidavit doesn't support a "sudden heat" killing?
- Why wasn't Hendricks charged as an accomplice rather than aiding a criminal when the probable cause affidavit states: he watched the beating take place over several hours while King and Gray took camera phone photos of themselves with a badly beaten Hall and text messaged them to a friend; called another man to discuss the beating while it was happening; he assisted Hall and Gray in dumping Hall's naked body in a ditch while he was still grasping for life; he returned to the crime scene a day later to confirm Hall was dead and to retrieve a camouflage jacket of Hall's he wanted for himself; and said nothing to police until the police were tipped off by someone else many days later?
- Have police questioned Terry Gray, Gray's father and Jackson County Deputy Coroner about what he knew and when he knew it? According to the probable cause affidavit, the beating of Hall took place in Terry Gray's home, and a detached garage at his home was where Gray's son and King hid Hall's body and where it was later discovered by police nearly 10 days after Hall's killing.
- And finally, why is this case failing to garner serious media coverage beyond Jackson County?