Three Murder Suspects Appear in Court; Attorneys Argue

Published 02/27 2014 08:02PM

Updated 02/27 2014 08:11PM

Three of the four suspects charged in the apparent execution-style shooting death of Joseph Nelson appeared before a Warrick County Judge on Thursday. However, only one of the suspects has a tentative trial date because of a disagreement between the prosecution and defense.

Formal murder charges as well as conspiracy to commit murder charges have been filed against Shawn Grigsby, 25, Jade Stigall, 22, David Lackey, 30, and Mathew McCallister, 31. McCallister was the only defendant who did not appear in Warrick County Superior Court on Thursday. He's being held in Marion County but Warrick County Sheriff Brett Kruse said McCallister will be brought back to Warrick County in the coming days. All four of them had a role in the murder of Joseph Nelson on February 17th, according to the probable cause affidavit. Nelson's body was found on a coal conveyor belt at Alcoa on February 18th.

At the first hearing Thursday morning, Grigsby entered a plea of not guilty and a tentative trial date was set for late August.

Fit with shackles around their hands and feet, Jade Stigall and David Lackey appeared separately in Warrick County Superior Court on Thursday afternoon. Lackey's hearing came first but ultimately set the stage for what would happen at Stigall's hearing.

During Lackey's hearing, Mark Phillips, the attorney representing Lackey, motioned to have Lackey released due to a lack of probable cause. This sparked a heated exchange between Phillips and Warrick County Prosecutor JoAnne Krantz. Phillips claimed the probable cause affidavit lacks some of the details that have already been released to the media. Phillips cited one particular detail that the four suspects allegedly robbed Nelson of his belongings and his PIN number before the shooting.

Phillips also made several mentions of the difficulties he has claimed to have had in the past with Krantz including allegations that Krantz had withheld evidence in prior cases.

The judge intervened and set a March 11th hearing date to settle the issue of probable cause. Krantz motioned to have a trial date set but the judge denied that request.

After discussing the matter at the bench prior to Stigall's hearing, the court made similar decisions as to the schedule of Stigall's court proceedings. No trial date was set in her case and the issue of probable cause will be settled at the March 11th hearing.

Stigall, Lackey and Grigsby all entered not guilty pleas. McCallister has not appeared in court. All four of them face murder and conspiracy to committ murder charges. Murder carries a sentence of 45 to 65 years in prison with an advisory sentence of 55 years. Conspiracy to commit murder carries a sentence of 20 to 50 years with an advisory sentence of 30 years.

According to the probable cause affidavit, Stigall and Nelson were at the Fairfield Inn in Evansville when Nelson made an apparent sexual advance toward Stigall. Stigall then called Lackey who went to the hotel along with Grigsby, according to the affidavit. Stigall said Nelson collected his belongings and the four people left the hotel room, according to the affidavit.

Court records state the four then drove to the Huck's Gas Station on Lynch and Green River Roads to meet with McCallister, who is Stigall's brother. McCallister got inside the vehicle and told Nelson, 'Brother... I don't know what God or what sort of any kind you believe in... but I suggest you start making amends with him now,' according to the affidavit. Stigall then drove to northern Warrick County at the request of McCallister, according to the affidavit.

All five people excited the vehicle and Stigall told authorities she saw McCallister receive the handgun from Grigsby, according to the affidavit. Stigall stated that Grigsby and McCallister were behind Nelson as McCallister shot and killed Nelson, according to the affidavit. Court records also show Nelson was on his knees with his hands unrestrained behind his back at the time he was shot.

Lackey told authorities that Grigsby had shot and killed Nelson, according to court records. However, Lackey later told authorities he saw McCallister's right arm move downward when the gun fired, according to the affidavit.

The four suspects then left the scene and McCallister dumped the murder weapon, a Taurus handgun, down a storm sewer on Pollack Ave.

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