WARSAW — Nineteen months and 10 days after the murder of Tara Thornburg and Josh Knisley at a Main Street residence in Syracuse, two of the three accused will stand trial.
The joint murder trial of Brandon Thomas Woody, 24, and Kyle David DeHart, 24, both of Syracuse, is scheduled to begin Thursday, Sept. 29, and continue for seven business days in Kosciusko Circuit Court. It has been estimated more than 100 jurors are being called to seat just 12 with one or two alternates. No trial date has been set for the third defendant, Thomas Hursey. Hursey is also facing two charges of aiding/inducing robbery resulting in serious bodily injury, one a level 2 felony and the other a level 6 felony.
For Woody, this is the third trial date set. The two previous dates: Aug. 17, 2015, and April 28, 2016, were continued. He has been charged with two counts of felony murder.
DeHart, co-defendant, is also facing two counts of felony murder, along with a charge of obstruction of justice a level 6 felony. For DeHart this is only the second date set for his day in court. The previous date of April 28, 2016, was continued following an untimely production of discovery days before the trial was to begin.
Until January 2016, the trials of Woody and Dehart were separate. A motion Jan. 11, 2016, was filed to try all three defendants at once. The judge granted the motion despite arguments by defense attorneys. Later the judge granted the separation of Hursey from Woody and DeHart.
All three men have been incarcerated in the Kosciusko County Jail since their arrests.
Also charged in connection with the murder and awaiting further court proceedings are Joan DeHart and Ashlyn Nicole Shepard. Mrs. DeHart has been charged with assisting a criminal, a level 5 felony. Shepard has been charged with obstruction of justice a level 6 felony.
Syracuse police responded to a 911 call at 12:29 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015, at 205 E. Main St., Syracuse. Entering the residence, officers located Thornburg, then 23, who was suffering from a gunshot wound to the head. A further search of the residence located Knisley, 19, in a bedroom, deceased from a gunshot wound to his head. Thornburg was transported by helicopter to Lutheran Hospital. She died from those injuries the following day. She was kept on life support until the completion of the organ donation process.
Police immediately began an attempt to locate Woody, who was 22 at the time, regarding his involvement in the shootings. He was considered armed and dangerous. Woody was taken into custody at gun point at a gas station in Mishawaka, shortly after 2 p.m. that same day. He was initially charged with felony murder and attempted murder. A second charge of felony murder was filed following the death of Thornburg.
Kyle DeHart, who was arrested the afternoon of the murders on unrelated charges, was officially charged in early March.
DeHart’s mother, Joan DeHart, Syracuse, was arrested March 4, 2015, on a charge of assisting a criminal. Shepard was arrested March 11 and preliminarily charged with obstruction of justice.
Hursey, who was arrested on a parole violation charge March 2, was officially charged with two counts of murder and a felony charge of aiding, inducing or causing robbery with serious bodily injury, around March 12, 2015.