Teens accused of murders now have attorneys
The two 18-year-old men accused of murdering a Greenville couple Aug. 3 appeared in Harrison Superior Court Friday afternoon to update the court about whether or not they had acquired legal representation.
In a 12-minute hearing, Kevin (Drew) Schuler of Greenville and Austin Scott of New Albany both told Superior Judge Roger D. Davis that they had hired attorneys.
Eric Weitzel told the court that he would be filing his appearance by yesterday (Tuesday) to represent Schuler in the case. After his portion of the hearing, Scott smiled at his grandmother and ”’ as he did following his initial hearing ‘ mouthed ‘I love you’ to her. She blew him a kiss before being led back to the Harrison County Jail. Scott’s mother leaned over to one of Asenath (Senie) Arnold’s family members in attendance and said ‘I’m sorry’ several times before returning to her seat.
Scott told Davis that, though not present for the hearing, New Albany attorney Stephen Beardsley would be his attorney.
Davis asked if Scott had any members of his family present who could speak on Scott’s behalf as to whether or not an attorney had been hired.
Scott’s mother, Melissa, and another male who Harrison County Prosecutor J. Otto Schalk believed was Scott’s brother, approached the bench. As Austin Scott looked at the floor, Melissa Scott locked an arm with her son and told Davis that Beardsley had been hired and would file an appearance shortly. Davis said he needed to hear from Beardsley directly,and scheduled a review hearing for Monday at 1 p.m.
Before she returned to her seat, Scott’s mother gave him a hug and a kiss and the male identified as possibly Scott’s brother gave him a hug before the defendant was led away. Melissa Scott stopped and leaned down to the same family member Schuler’s mother spoke with and also apologized.
‘She said she was sorry, but she was also crying and I couldn’t make out what else she said,’ the family member, who did not want to be identified, said. ‘What do you say to something like that? You can’t say it’s OK because it’s not. Saying ‘sorry’ isn’t going to bring them back or make things easier. For me, it’s just too soon.’
Last month, the defendants were each charged with three counts of murder (one count for the murder and two counts because the murders took place while in the act of committing a felony), felony burglary, robbery and theft in connection with the deaths of Gary Henderson and Arnold.
The teens are accused of stabbing Henderson 23 times and beating Arnold to death with a wooden single-tree, which is used on a horse harness, after breaking into the couple’s home. The teens also allegedly stole money, firearms and prescription medication.
The murder charges carry penalties of 45 to 65 years in prison for each count; the robbery and burglary charges carry penalties of 20 to 50 years; and the charge of theft has a penalty of six months to three years in jail. Each of the six counts carries a potential fine of up to $10,000.
Harrison County Prosecutor J. Otto Schalk said he has not yet made a determination on whether or not to seek the death penalty.
‘There’s a lot of public support and a lot of public opposition,’ Schalk said. ‘We want to deal in facts and not peer pressure’ when it comes to seeking the death penalty.
Schalk also said that, due to the publicity locally in the case, he’s anticipating that the defense may request a change of venue if the case goes to trial.
Getting a change of venue may prove to be difficult; the only change of venue Davis has granted during his time serving as judge came in 2011 in the case of John Britton, a former Harrison County Sheriff’s Deputy who had left a loaded firearm on the couple’s bed after his wife, Christine, had threatened to kill herself. The case was moved to Dubois County. Prior to granting a change of venue, Davis said that, in 2007, a jury was able to successfully be convened in a double-murder case in Harrison County, but, he also referenced a 2004 murder case in Spencer County that was overturned by the Indiana Supreme Court due to pretrial publicity.
‘I think the message to trial courts was that some situations should get a change of venue in highly unusual circumstances and unusual cases,’ Davis said at the time.