WARSAW — Brandon Thomas Woody was found guilty on two counts of murder. Kyle David DeHart was found guilty on two counts of murder and guilty on a charge of obstruction of justice.
The two will be sentenced on these charges at a date to be announced.
Jurors deliberated just over seven hours before the verdict was returned to Kosciusko Circuit Court Judge Michael Reed.
The courtroom was near or at capacity to hear the closing statements and verdicts in the murder trial of Woody and DeHart late Thursday morning. They were charged for the Feb. 19, 2015, murders of Tara Thornburg and Josh Knisley. DeHart was also charged with obstruction of justice in the alleged destruction of evidence.
The case went to the jury at 1:45 p.m.
Indiana law allows the prosecution to present its closing arguments first and rebuttal closing arguments after the defense counsel.
Dan Hampton, prosecuting attorney, showed the photographs of Thornburg and Knisley before sitting them on the prosecution table, near the jurors. “While true these are pictures, to those who personally knew them, they still live in the hearts and souls of their loved ones.” He focused on the trueness of Thomas Hursey’s testimony of where things were in the bedroom and where shoes, a gun magazine and gun were tossed. Hampton referred to the inability of not locating the gun to finding a needle in a haystack.
Hampton also referred to other testimonies given by state witnesses and words used in the rap songs admitted into evidence.
“Following the horror at the house, the Thornburg family lost a daughter. The Knisley family lost a son. We lost, in our community, two caring young adults who lost their two lives in the ruthless action of these three (stating loudly their names) Thomas Hursey, Brandon Woody and Kyle DeHart,” stated Hampton.
Scott Lennox, counsel for Woody, centered his closing arguments around the state’s star witness, Hursey and described Hursey as a contracted liar. He noted his convictions on crimes and as a contracted liar set up his friends for convictions, after which his charges began to drop off. Lennox indicated that Hursey was the killer, not his client.
Lennox stated Hursey never came forward until he was in hot water and then walked away, even going so far as to ask for the mother of his child, who has custody, to be put in jail for drug use.
Lennox stated it made no sense for Thornburg to accuse someone she knew and had no bad blood between. Why he asked, referring to the shock wave injury to the brain stem of Thornburg and not being in the right mind and because she knew Woody, but did not Hursey.
Larry Hansen, counsel for DeHart, made similar arguments as Lennox, indicating it was Hursey who pulled the trigger and then accused Woody and DeHart. He referenced Hursey’s testimony of DeHart’s vehicle being a community car, of a neighbor only hearing two car doors slam and of the father of DeHart testifying his knew his son was at home. Hansen asked the question ‘who were the jurors going to believe?’
Hansen referenced several points made during the testimony of Josh Larkin, regarding the cell phone left behind, and who was immediately in the vehicle the night before the murders. Larkin testified it was Hursey, Woody and himself with DeHart entering possibly five minutes later. This, stated Hanson, contradicted Hursey’s testimony that all four entered the vehicle at the same time.
He also argued there was no proof or evidence, other than the fact the items were at the DeHart residence, that his client participated in the destruction. He pointed the finger at Hursey.
Hansen stressed the defense did not have to prove one thing and again asked the jurors who they would believe, the father or Hursey.
Hampton’s rebuttal argument disputed comments from the defense attorneys and further expounded the meanings and definitions of a number of the instructions given to the jurors. As did his opponents during their arguments.
“Instead of me having the last word, who more qualified than one individual to have the last word,” stated Hampton. It was at this point the 911 call was replayed with Thornburg stating the name Brandon Woody and “he” knocked her out and shot her boyfriend. She also gave her name to the dispatcher. “She had enough presence of mind to give her name and ID her shooter, and tell Joe Denton (first on the scene) ‘they’re gone,’ ” concluded Hampton.