Defense Attorney: Breedlove Murder Case 'Tarnishes Everyone Involved'

Two of the three men previously charged with murdering a popular Evansville disc jockey in July walked out of the Vanderburgh County Jail as free men Friday afternoon. The other man whose murder charge was dropped, Derrick Murray, remains in jail on an unrelated offense. While there was enough to establish probable cause, the dismissal of the murder charges was motivated by a lack of sufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, prosecutors said.

While on his way to work at KC's Time Out Lounge on the night of July 19th, Shane Breedlove, a popular disc jockey, was gunned down on Washington Avenue. Murray, 34, Bobby John Handegard, 41, and his son, 19-year-old Bobby Michael Handegard, were arrested in early August, accused of murdering Breedlove as retribution for Breedlove's testimony in a battery trial against a former business partner of Bobby John Handegard.

For nearly two months, the three men were being held in jail as their defense attorneys publicly complained about a lack of information from the Vanderburgh County Prosecutor's Office.

On Friday, the prosecutor's office, after having extensive discussions with police detectives,  filed motions to dismiss the pending charges against the three men.

"For [Murray], it's really good news. But for the system, I think it's really bad news," said Chris Lenn, Murray's defense attorney.

According to court records, prosecutors dismissed the charges without prejudice, meaning charges can be re-filed at a later date. The motive behind the dismissal was a lack of sufficient evidence needed to prove the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, prosecutors said.

"Once we developed the probable cause, some of the evidence that we thought was going to develop and be able to bring in did not materialize," said Evansville Police Captain Andy Chandler.

Lenn, on the other hand, believes charges were filed filed too quickly.

"It may be very true that they should have never filed it," Lenn said. "[The police] thought my client was involved. They maybe even wanted him to be involved. They went to the prosecutor's office and asked the prosecutor to fill in the blanks and went to the judge to ask him to fill in the blanks."

Even when the charges were dismissed, Lenn said he wasn't notified nor did Murray appear in court.

"In my mind, its unconscionable," Lenn said. "It was the prosecutor's duty to inform me that they had decided to dismiss the case. They didn't."

Capt. Chandler said the evidence that failed to come together included  reluctant witnesses. The younger Handegard's 17-year-old girlfriend claimed that the Handegards were in a car looking for Breedlove and the younger Handegard shot and killed Breedlove. Defense attorney Scott Danks said had two friends of the elder Handegard who would testify that Handegard was with them at the time the shooting.

Capt. Chandler said the department stands firm in its decision to proceed with the case.

"They had, in our minds, committed one murder. We wanted to ensure there was not going to be collateral damage," Chandler said. "It was a safety aspect that we felt was necessary to move when we did. That's why we chose to do so."

Lenn, a former prosecutor himself, didn't mince words on Friday when he called this case part of a systemic problem with the entire system. The entire case, he said, simply didn't add up.

"I think everybody conspired to not embarrass the prosecutor's office and not embarrass the police department because they've held at lease one person for two months in jail with no evidence," Lenn said. "What that does, it tarnishes everbody's image that's involved in this."

"I think that's a disingenuous comment from Mr. Lenn," Capt. Chandler said. "Defense attorneys, and him in particular on numerous occasions, will ask for delay after delay after delay in all kinds of criminal charges."

   


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