Jared T. Robbins is accused of voluntary manslaughter, a Class A felony, in the Aug. 22, 2010 shooting death of Donald E. Lowe III, 28, Martinsville.
Robbins appeared in Putnam Superior Court Wednesday afternoon as Judge Charles "Denny" Bridges sought to move proceedings off dead center in the old case.
Billed as a final pretrial conference in the case --- although that has been indicated before in these proceedings --- the brief hearing began with Judge Bridges greeting Robbins as he took a seat alongside his Indianapolis legal counsel Luther T. Garcia and Hilary Bowe Ricks.
"I haven't laid eyes on you in a while," Bridges told the defendant. "It's been a long time (since Robbins had been in court). That's why I had you brought up this afternoon."
The case has had its own legal odyssey. The new trial date established Wednesday as Oct. 2-5 is at least the seventh scheduled date for a trial Garcia believes will be a four-day proceeding.
"Is that still your party's intentions?" Bridges asked Garcia, reminding the attorney "that the last time I talked to you, you were on a cell phone, talking about a four-day jury trial."
Previous attempts to bring the case to trial had been scheduled before Judge Bridges on Jan. 25, March 3 and Oct. 18, all in 2011, and Jan. 31, April 10 and Sept. 11, 2012.
"This case needs to go to trial," Putnam County Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter asserted to the Banner Graphic after the less than 10-minute hearing.
"He's been in jail two years," the prosecutor noted, incredulous that the case has taken this long to get through the court system.
"It hasn't been our continuances," Bookwalter assured. "It's been theirs."
Indeed there has been no rush to judgment as it has been the defense requesting a number of continuances in the case. Meanwhile, at one point (Feb. 28, 2011, according to court records), it even appeared as though a change of plea or plea agreement was pending in the case.
But like the first six trial dates, that never came to pass either.
Twice this year Judge Bridges has denied a defense continuance in the case, hoping to hold true to the trial date in play at the time.
The latest change precludes Sept. 11 as a court date because all trial judges in Indiana must attend a mandatory judicial conference on that date, Bridges said.
Meanwhile, the case has also gone through a change in defense lawyers from public defender Scott Adams initially to Garcia in May 2011, followed by Ricks' addition to the defense team in March 2012.
Through it all, Robbins has remained in the Putnam County Jail on $100,000 cash-only bond.
Robbins had only been out of jail since July 2010 in a felony burglary case when on Aug. 22, 2010 he and a relative allegedly tangled with the victim Lowe in a physical confrontation in front of a Cloverdale residence on Burma Road.
A reported eyewitness said Robbins, retrieving a handgun from his vehicle, fired five to seven rounds at Lowe with at least two bullets reportedly striking the victim in the chest.
Robbins allegedly fled the scene in a car, and within an hour of the shooting he was apprehended near the Putnam-Hendricks county line on Interstate 70.
Voluntary manslaughter is considered an intentional killing in which the offender had no prior intent to kill, such as a killing that occurs in the heat of passion. Circumstances leading to the killing must be the kind that would cause a reasonable person to become emotionally or mentally disturbed, otherwise the killing may be charged as first-degree or second-degree murder.
Class A felonies are punishable by up to 50 years in prison.
During the two-year cycle of the case to date, the state has also filed a habitual offender charge against Robbins. In addition to the aforementioned felony burglary conviction, Robbins has intimidation and criminal recklessness convictions on his record.