Hargrove's trial goes into day 2

Thursday, January 20, 2011

GREENCASTLE -- Four people who said they were in a car with Justin Hargrove during a shooting spree in April testified Wednesday that Hargrove fired a rifle out of a car while a police officer was behind them.

However, none of them could say in which direction the shots were fired.

Hannah Shockey, Michael Pryor, Keven Crowe and Lacey Couch all testified during the second day of testimony at Hargrove's trial that Hargrove sat on the window ledge of Couch's car and fired an AR-15 assault rifle while Putnam County Sheriff's Department reserve officer Mathew Biggs was following them early April 6. Because of the way Hargrove was bracing against the window, all four said they could not see where Hargrove was aiming. All said that between one and three shots were fired.

Hargrove is charged with Class A felony attempted murder and class D felonies resisting law enforcement, receiving stolen property and criminal recklessness with a deadly weapon.

Crowe and Pryor admitted to stealing the AR-15 and four other handguns on April 4 from the parent of a friend who lives in Coatesville.

All four witnesses said they went to different houses that night, initially hanging out and listening to music. They all said that the guns were present earlier in the evening. Crowe said they took pictures on cell phones of different people holding the guns. Hargrove was in one of the pictures.

Tongret asked if the pictures were intended to be playing around, if they were "posturing and posing because they were excited about the guns." Crowe said that was the case.

Pryor and Shockey said they had left the group for a while. All four testified that at some point during the evening of April 5 they began drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana.

Jeanette Asher testified that Couch, Crowe and Hargrove came to her apartment the night of April 5 so Crowe could try to fix a broken computer. Asher, the stepsister of Couch, testified Hargrove brought the guns, wrapped in a blanket, into her home. When she became aware of the firearms, she asked the trio to either leave or remove the guns from the home.

Asher testified that as Hargrove was removing the guns from the house, he said, "If I get caught with these guns I'm not going back to jail," and that he would take every police officer down with him.

Asher's former fiancÚ Mike Mikesell and Couch testified that Hargrove said something similar, while Crowe said he did not hear any such statement.

Defense attorney Sidney Tongret asked if it was possible Hargrove was posturing when he made that statement and Mikesell said it was.

Tongret also asked Mikesell about the AR-15. Mikesell, who is in the Army National Guard, said he was familiar with the M-16, which is the military equivalent of the rifle. Tongret asked if the rifle could rattle off 30 rounds quickly, and Mikesell said it could.

After leaving Asher's residence on April 5 Hargrove, Crowe and Couch said they went back to Couch's residence, where Pryor and Shockey met back up with them.

All four testified that they went out to a rural area in Couch's 2007 Chevy Cobalt to fire the guns. Couch said her car had 18-inch rims and a loud muffler. Shockey's car was left outside Couch's home. All four said everyone fired a gun, including Hargrove, who fired the AR-15.

On the return from firing the guns, Couch said a police car came up behind them on Washington Street. She said she was driving with Hargrove in the front passenger seat, and that he had the AR-15 between his legs.

Couch said when she first saw the lights from the police vehicle she began to pull over, only for someone in the car to yell, "go, go, go."

Shockey said everyone was yelling "go, go, go." Couch said she then accelerated, which is when the shots were fired. Couch testified that after the shots were fired she went around a turn, at which point she thought Hargrove fell out of the car.

"He just wasn't there anymore," she said.

Pryor, who was in the back seat, said the car he was riding in was chased for a bit after the shots were fired. He said Hargrove then jumped out the window, and the car kept going. The four then said they went to different houses, but none of the witnesses went to Couch's residence.

Tongret asked Couch if she heard anyone say that Hargrove exited the car to draw attention away from the others in the car. Couch said she had heard Crowe say that. When asked, Crowe said he did not remember saying that.

During the police investigation into the shooting, Randy Seipel of the Greencastle Police Department, the lead detective on the case, was around Franklin Street, where the shooting took place. He said he found one shoe on the road, another in the mud and a pair of .223 caliber bullet ammunition magazines taped together with live ammunition in them (AR-15s use .223 ammo). Seipel later said Hargrove's fingerprints were found on the tape holding the magazines together.

Mike Hanlon with the Greencastle Police Department said he was told police were looking for a dark green, four-door sedan with loud exhaust, as well as a black male on foot. Hanlon received a tip from a resident on Ritter Street that a black male was staying at Lacey Couch's residence, and early on April 6 he heard someone coming into that home.

Seipel and Michael Collins of the Greencastle Police Department went to Couch's residence at 515 Ritter St. Seipel knocked on the door while Collins went around to the back. He saw a black male on a couch and yelled for him to go to the front door. Seipel said the black male, Hargrove, opened the door.

Seipel said Hargrove, who was shirtless at the time, had an injury to his face and walked with a limp. Seipel said Collins pointed out muddy socks, a first aid kit and peroxide near the couch Hargrove was on. Seipel said he asked Hargrove a few brief questions, during which Hargrove said he sustained his injuries wrestling with Pryor.

Seipel said Hargrove stated he had stayed home while Couch, Crowe, Pryor and Shockey went out at night. Hargrove was then taken to the Putnam County Jail to be questioned. Seipel said he and other police officers secured the house until a search warrant was obtained.

When the search warrant was obtained, Seipel said the police found a white shirt with a design and jeans with fraying on the front in a washing machine.

Putnam County Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter played 58 minutes of Hargrove's police interview, which Collins conducted. In the video Hargrove initially denied being in the car. He said his injuries were from wrestling. Collins eventually said his injuries looked too fresh, saying, "the one on your chin is still oozing."

Collins also said the police had Hargrove's DNA on the socks and shoes.

Collins initially questioned Hargrove just about fleeing from a police vehicle. Hargrove asked about this, saying "is this really a cop chasing me or is there something else you're not telling me?"

Hargrove also mentioned being drunk several times.

Collins photographed Hargrove's injuries, including his arms, shoulders and hands. He checked Hargrove's lower body for injuries, but just had him remove his pants, not his underwear.

Hargrove eventually said he was present for the shooting but did not fire the rifle. Hargrove said Pryor was the one to fire shots. Hargrove also said his injuries were from jumping out of the car. Collins asked repeatedly if he had been hit by Biggs' car, and Hargrove said he had not.

Bookwalter asked Collins if he counted how many times Hargrove had lied during the interview. Collins said he had not.

Defense attorney Tongret asked Collins if he lied to Hargrove. Collins said it was part of the strategy police are trained to use. When asked by Bookwalter if he ever presented someone who is being interrogated with all the facts right away Collins said "no, absolutely not."

Tongret also asked if it was against the law for Hargrove to not incriminate himself. Collins said it was not illegal.

Tongret asked if Collins thought Hargrove was lying. He also asked Collins why Hargrove didn't receive medical attention for the five hours he was being questioned.

Collins said Hargrove had indicated he was fine and didn't think he was in need of immediate medical attention.

Tongret also asked why Collins hadn't done a breath test to determine if Hargrove was drunk. Collins said Hargrove seemed together.

Patrick McFadden with the Putnam County Sheriff's Department said he had executed a Baker's warrant, which allowed him to photograph parts of Hargrove's body. The prosecutors showed those pictures, including one of Hargrove's buttocks, which had a very large, bright red abrasion on both sides. McFadden said he served the warrant a couple of days after Hargrove was questioned.

Collins said he had been unaware of the injury to Hargrove's buttocks.

All of yesterday's witnesses were called by the state.

Today, the trial moves into its third day.

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  • This will be real helpful while the jury is deliberating. They can just review this article if they forget anything.

    I can see the appeal now.

    -- Posted by reckman on Thu, Jan 20, 2011, at 1:23 PM
  • Perhaps you've never been selected for jury duty. If you had, you'd know that jurors are admonished from the beginning to avoid media coverage.

    -- Posted by chp on Thu, Jan 20, 2011, at 11:03 PM
  • reckman, you are aware that newspapers and television routinely report on trials all over the country as they occur, right? The jury is also able to review evidence given during the trial, so this article would be unnecessary during deliberations.

    -- Posted by Clovertucky on Fri, Jan 21, 2011, at 1:16 PM
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