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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Clay grand jury to hear new info on '88 murders

Monday, February 4, 2008


For the BannerGraphic

BRAZIL -- A six-member grand jury panel will hear new information about the 20-year-old double homicide of Tonya Pickett, 16, and her stepfather Ricky Mustard, 32, at their Brazil residence on Nov. 18, 1988.

"This proves that those cold case investigations seen on television are very real," Clay Circuit Court Judge Joseph Trout told The Brazil Times Monday about his approval of special prosecutors' motion to convene a Grand Jury filed Jan. 30.

Due to the nature of the case, Trout was unable to provide details about the potential person or persons of interest or the charges involved with proceedings, but did disclose further information may be made available in the future.

Drawn from the Clay Circuit Court Grand Jury service, 30 loca residents will soon be notified of the potential to be selected as jurors by Trout when they appear in circuit court. Six jurors and two alternates are scheduled, at this time, to be selected on Feb. 20.

Unlike a regular jury trial, the Grand Jury's proceedings are scheduled to take place at the Clay County Justice Center. The main legal reason for convening a Grand Jury is to prevent a case going to trial solely on a prosecutor's decision. The prosecution, according to Trout, must convince the impartial panel that probable cause exists and a crime has been committed through the presentation of evidence and testimony.

Trout explained a grand jury decides if "targets" of interest in an investigation of alleged criminal activity should be "indicted" (formally charged in a "true bill" case) or if there is not enough evidence to charge and issue a "no true bill" judgment.

"Prosecutors can also acquire additional evidence during grand jury proceedings," Trout said about how a grand jury can compel witnesses testify. "Individuals are not always truthful during investigations when questioned by authorities, but participants who provide testimony during these types of proceedings are sworn to tell the truth. If they don't, it is punishable by law."

Although behind closed doors, Trout said a Grand Jury proceeding is very informal, with jury members allowed to ask questions during the proceedings.

Expected to be a lengthy process, Trout said he has requested the prosecution to take into consideration any hardships placed on the jurors through their service.

"They will be able to allow for occurrences in the jurors lives, recess and then return later," Trout said.

Convening a Grand Jury is a rare occurrence in Clay County according to courthouse personnel, but not for this case.

A Grand Jury in Clay County was convened regarding the case in 2004, when Prosecutor David Thomas presented information about former Brazil City Police Captain Roger Lindsay's hampering with the initial investigation into the double homicide. At no time during the initial investigation in 1988 or the Indiana State Police Cold Case Investigative Team's recent probe has Lindsay been considered involved in the murders.

"Before that, no one can remember a grand jury being convened in Clay County," Trout said, adding that he has only been a part of a grand jury proceeding once during his legal career.

"As a prosecutor, it takes a tremendous amount of work and preparation to go before a Grand Jury," Trout said. "My job as the judge is to simply make sure all procedures are being filed properly, take care of the needs of the jury and make sure that the law is upheld."

On Nov. 17, 1988, Pickett, a Northview High School junior, active in the winter guard and drill team, returned home from a date with her boyfriend between 11:15 and 11:30 p.m.

Mustard, a former Marine employed by Oxide Chemical, was home all evening recuperating from a motorcycle accident of July 23, 1988. His wife, Cheryl Pickett, was at her job in Greencastle, working the evening shift.

Sometime after midnight, Nov. 18, an unknown assailant(s) entered the home at 110 W. Pinckley Street, and used a shotgun to kill Pickett and Mustard.

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