Marion County prosecutors face setbacks in court

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Oct. 8, 2015)-- The Marion County Prosecutor's Office has suffered several high profile setbacks in the courtroom over the last six weeks.

A jury found Colts Linebacker Josh McNary not guilty of rape. Another jury could not reach a unanimous decision against teenager Jabril Scruggs, who is accused of attacking a girl at Lawrence Central High School. He will be retried.

A murder charge was dropped against Dino Thompson for the killing of a 13-year-old boy last winter on the east side, and Christopher Milbrooks was acquitted Tuesday for the murder of teen last year.

Despite prosecutors' objections, a $10,000 bond was set for murder suspect Michael Hicks before his trial next month. Victim Ahmad Beech may have been killed in a struggle for a gun as Hicks tried to defend himself from a robbery.

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said while his office has secured 25 convictions in 29 murder or attempted murder cases this year, justice is not always a slam dunk.

“In some circumstances, we have cases that don’t even get to trial because of situations where witnesses disappear, they recant and that’s the reality we deal with,” said Curry.  “We regularly encounter situations where individuals are not inclined to cooperate with us.”

Curry said of the more than 400 non-fatal shooting victims in 2014, 51 percent refused to help police find their attacker.

“Unfortunately we have witnesses all the time who say, ‘I’m not coming.’”

Curry said in the Thompson case, friends of the victim changed their stories and a key witness could not be found.

“They then gave differing accounts as the case went on, those four individuals, but most importantly, in Dino Thompson, again, this is our reality, our most important witness in that case was his girlfriend and she disappeared.”

Defense attorney Ralph Staples, a former prosecutor, said often, from his side of the courtroom, defendants are overcharged.

“A lot of trials aren’t about truth,” said Staples. “They are as you said what the government can prove beyond a reasonable doubt.”

In the case of Hicks, who was held without bond since the first of the year before being released last week pending trial, Court ordered conditions are set in place to insure his compliance with trial dates and the protection of witnesses.

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