WARSAW — Court adjourned at 3:20 p.m. today, Monday, Oct. 3, in the murder trial of Brandon Woody and Kyle DeHart following the cross examination of Thomas Hursey, considered to be the state’s key witness, and brief testimony from the victims mothers — Rachel Thornburg, mother of Tara Thornburg, and Rhonda Bickel, mother of Josh Knisley.
Scott Lennox, counsel for Brandon Woody, and Larry Hansen, counsel for Kyle DeHart, attempted to discredit Hursey through cross examination. Hursey’s criminal record, his involvement of being a confidential informant for the drug task force, and how he spent his time after being released from the Department of Corrections two weeks prior were pointed out.
Though not without objections by the prosecution, Lennox was able to bring before the jury the three pending cases Hursey is still facing, past criminal charges and the fact that no date for his murder trial has been set. Lennox also pointed out Hursey had lied to people to purchase drugs. Lennox also attempted to discover if Hursey had been made any promises on pending cases or the murder case for being a confidential informant.
Hursey denied being given any promises, but did testify indications were made of potential reductions on existing charges. He noted he didn’t expect any but was highly hopeful he’d get some assistance for cooperating.
Hansen outlined the numerous times Hursey was interviewed and questioned by police, questioned the time frame it took to travel from Syracuse to Warsaw – which Hursey stated he was not sure, but estimated 45 minutes. Additional questions related to Feb. 18 when the trio were at the Comfort Inn and where Hursey actually was when he decided to leave – in the car or in the hotel. Hursey had testified Woody and DeHart had gone up to the room, while the deposition stated all three went into the hotel and he waited outside the room to hear if he could go into the room, but decided to leave, taking DeHart’s vehicle to his residence at Eastgate until the next morning.
His false statements to police on several occasions were noted and his statement of police not being able to match any prints at the scene with his shoes was also noted. Hansen further examined through questioning the testimony of Sean Brenneman who reported hearing several car doors slam, yet Hursey stating, he and DeHart had entered the vehicle, closing the car doors, after running from the scene of the murder and prior to Woody entering the vehicle and closing his door.
Dan Hampton, prosecutor, was given the opportunity for a rebuttal after the cross examination. Hampton focused on how Hursey was awakened at the DeHart residence later the day of the murder, and when the last time was he saw Woody. Hursey was also asked to describe who and the clothing worn by individuals in a photo taken from the surveillance cameras at Comfort Inn.
Hampton also questioned Hursey on the CI document he signed, which had a closing date of July 12, 2012, noting the marking that he was a reliable CI and had him read the entire statement in the deposition about the night at the Comfort Inn.
The testimony of the victims mothers focused on the the ages of the two victims and photographs of each, which were admitted into evidence. While Mrs. Thornburg remained unemotional in her testimony, Mrs. Bickel was asked to try to compose herself by the prosecution and to provide answers that could be clearly heard.
The trial will continue Tuesday morning at 8:30 a.m. in Kosciusko Circuit Court.