Judge Hears Case for Joining Murder Trials

None of the three men charged in the 2015 murders of Joshua Knisley and Tara Thornburg appeared in court Thursday morning as their attorneys argued against a joinder motion.
Kosciusko County Prosecutor Dan Hampton argued for the motion in a hearing in Kosciusko County Circuit Court before Judge Michael Reed Thursday. The motion aims to join the cases of Brandon Woody, 22; Kyle DeHart, 22; and Thomas Hursey, 27, all of whom were charged for murder in February.
Hampton advised that because the three share charges in the same crime, and that the separate trials would initially require the same evidence and witnesses, it would be in the state’s best interest to try the three together.
DeHart’s attorney, Larry Hansen, argued against the motion, stating that to his knowledge the only thing putting his defendant at the scene of the crime was a statement from Hursey. He told the court that if DeHart was grouped with the other two for a jury trial, it could be implied that he was present at the time. Hansen said that counts one and two of murder are based on Hursey’s preliminary testimony.
Antony Garza, Hursey’s attorney, also opposed the claim, as a joined trial points fingers at everyone involved, leading to negative implications. Woody’s attorney Scott Lennox claimed a similar reason, that the joinder could cause issues for everyone involved.
The state presented Hatchet vs. the State of Indiana in brief, a 1987 case where the court approved joining two trials where the parties committed the same offense. All parties will have 10 days to file the presented arguments. All information is under the advisement of Reed, who will make the final decision.
All three defendants have been charged with two counts of murder for the deaths of Knisley, 19, and Thornburg, 23, both of Syracuse. Knisley died Feb. 19 and Thornburg died Feb. 20.