Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Another Strange Twist In Aaron Hall Hate Crime Murder Case

Jackson Circuit Court Judge Bill Vance continued a bail hearing for Coleman King, an 18-year-old Crothersville man accused of brutally beating to death Aaron "Shorty" Hall on April 12 after Hall allegedly touched King's crotch area and asked for oral sex. That bail is even being considered in this case is an outrage in an of itself. King, along with another accused accomplice, Garrett Gray, is charged with murder and voluntary manslaughter. He and Gray were taken into police custody nearly 10 days after Hall was killed. According to a probable cause affidavit, both Gray and King implicated themselves in Hall's death during police questioning.

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?


Anonymous said...

Consider also that the burden of proof in a let to bail hearing is actually on the defense. the state need not offer evidence at such a hearing. although the right to such a hearing is both constitutional and statutory, it is frequently abused by defense attorneys to obtain free depositions. such requests should be dismissed without a hearing if the probable cause affidavit is sufficient to show the "proof is evident or the presumption strong"

Anonymous said...

oh, and if they each gave statements implicating themselves, and the state chooses to use those statements in its case, they cannot be tried together under Indiana law.

Gary R. Welsh said...

anon, I don't know if you are a criminal defense attorney, but if you are, would you be demanding a trial date less than 60 days from your client's arrest in a case which involves such a serious crime?

Anonymous said...

i would if i knew the state couldn't get its case together in time. its a tactic oft used in the criminal defense bar. and if the state doesn't get its case together, the defendant gets released. and if the state DOES get its case together, the defense can simply ask for a continuance and cry "ineffective assistance" if the court makes them proceed.

oh, and the reason you haven't heard anything about this case in indy, is because no one there cares about their own homicide rate, let alone a small town killing in south central indiana.

Anonymous said...

I am wondering as well why Terry Gray is not being investigated. But then again he is one of the good old boys in Jackson County, therefore his son will no doubt get preferential treatment. As long as you know the right people there, you can do anything you want-even get away with murder.
It's happened more than once there.
Crime is frequently swept under the rug or in at least one instance the wrong man sent to prison for a crime they had nothing to do with.

Sam Hasler said...

I once had a partner who did death penalty cases. He would ask for a bail hearing to upset the State and to get discovery. I suspect the same thing is being done here - testing the State's case. Will it succeed? Not so long as that murder charge hangs over the case. Put another way, if it does then start howling like mad.

As for the speedy trial, most criminal defense lawyers I knew and know hate them. Clients think they are great. Lawyers think it is a ticket to an ill-prepared trial which means welcome to the DOC.

Not sure if this helps, but do keep this case in the news, Gary. I am not LGBT but I find this thing appalling for everyone in Indiana.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

"Aaron was a good man and nobody deserves to die like that so if anybody has a problem with Aaron they can take it up with me."

Anonymous said...

someone else that cares

The people that did not know aaron, should not go around acting like oh well just another death. Aaron was not GAY!!!!!!!! It was not a hate crime, its just some punks who think their cool and think everything should go their way.The people who did this to aaron....will have to pay sometime.

Anonymous said...

Well Aaron was a very great man! He was not gay!!!! I hope that the people that did this to aaron get pay back and i hope that who ever pays them back torchers them like they did aaron.
Aaron loved his daughter and she loved him too. I know that people lose their dads, but imagine what his daughter feels! She is 10 and can not tell her dad she loves him cause some stuck up punks had to take him from her and the rest of her family.

Anonymous said...

1. Technically, he doesn't have to be gay for them to have thought he was gay, and for their resultant actions to be a hate crime.

2. Aaron may have been gay. I understand his family loved him, but it's not his family's place to interpret his sexuality, fantasies, or orientation. Such things are personal, and may not have been shared with his children, or any family members, due to the stigma associated with such orientation, as apparently pointed out in this case.

His family may have to consider it a possibility that he was gay, as opposed to wishfully thinking that he couldn't have been gay. Family members are typically is in denial upon hearing such things.

Anonymous said...

Aaron hall was not gay, hell, i've ran trains on chics with him... haha damn shame them boys did that. It's also a damn shame their is no media attention on any of this and also that the true story hasn't gotten out yet... I really need to get in touch with a publisher and write a book about my life in crothersville... I've went thru alot in that little town and if the nation knew the half of what I've seen their then maybe someone would put a stop to the methedimic... Time can only tell... Lord forgive them, for they know not what they do.

Anonymous said...

You people don't know crap about them boys. If Aaron was such a great guy who loved his daughter why in world would he be drinking and using dope with kids 5 years older than his daughter. i agree that this was awful and could have been avoided but don't put the blame all on two people and leave Terry out of this. You say Aaron a beloved son, father and brother, HA. Whatever.Some anonymous loser said they can take up these comments with them but refuses to give anyone that option. What a joke. How many times does one person have to go to jail before they are considered not a loser. How many times was Aaron there. Come on people. Blame yourselves for this not the families.

Anonymous said...

drugs are usually a factor in anything in jackson county... and if they say they were drinkin there is a good chance they were on a lot more they didnt want to talk about it... what if they was trying to collect money owed? just a theory... my experience is that kids of law enforcement feel above the law and are involved in way too much black market goods!

yeah said...

I knew Aaron, and I also must say that he was definately not a gay man. And regardless, I do believe if he were gay that his friends and family would have loved him and defended his honor just the same. But the thing is, these spoiled boys that murdered him had to take it to another level by trying to humiliate him in death, and that is something I strongly believe is another crime altogether that deserves a punishment added on to the time they serve for the murder of an innocent man. So what if he used drugs or drank alcohol, was gay or anything else demoralizing that people have said. It's all heresay and if he isn't here to tell his side of the story- they have no basis to even put it out to the public. I think the whole thing is disturbed, sick, and I think whoever published any of the STORIES of his murder were given exactly what they wanted. They obviously meant to humiliate him to the highest degree possible. Even in the way they beat him and left him dead and naked. Don't authorities get it? when these boys got caught they knew they were going to be punished and they fabricated a fictional characterization of a man that everyone that knew him personally Knew he was not GAY. Usually I feel the people that pass are in a better place but to allow that kind of disgrace on someone and to publicize it without any facts is just not OKAY. It's not okay at all. and you with all the arguementative comments toward this mans family are a disgrace within yourself. who the hell would argue with a greiving family? just another sick asshole who will probably demoralize many others in this lifetime, and argue your opinions to a family that will only believe what they knew about the man they loved and cared about, regardless of what anyone says. COME ON NOW! Let Aaron rest in peace without labeling him as this or that because the truth was HE WAS A GREAT GUY, A GOOD FATHER, AN AWESOME FRIEND and most of all an innocent victim of ignorance at its best.