It was another emotional day in Warrick County, after an emotional trial that lasted about month. Isaiah Hagan, the man convicted of murdering Halee Rathgeber in April of last year, has been sentenced.
After Hagan was found guilty of murder, his attorney Mark Phillips and prosecutor Michael Perry agreed to a 60-year plea deal. On Thursday, Judge Greg Granger issued that 60-year sentence, but not before what the defense called some surprising conversation.
“Never in my career have I ever seen what occurred in that court room,” Phillips said.
Phillips says Judge Granger made some comments suggesting Hagan was not remorseful toward the Rathgeber family.
“Not one time in the courtroom did Isaiah Hagan engage in any behavior that I felt was inappropriate, disrespectful, jovial,” Phillps said.
Some members of the Rathgeber family spoke Thursday as well, in memory of Halee.
“You know, there’s always going to be a gaping wound in the hearts of Halee’s family, and no amount of sentencing, or you know, finality will ever be enough for them,” Perry said.
Phillips says there were also talks of mitigating and aggravating circumstances, even though it was his understanding the sentence was already agreed upon, and he says Judge Granger suggested the defense did some things wrong in the trial.
“I’ve never had that happen, and I’m really, really troubled that the judge would say that,” Phillips said.
Phillips’ client will be appealing his guilty verdict, but the judge recommended he could use a fresh set of eyes, and appointed Hagan an attorney out of Pike County.
“My eyes are fresh, and my eyes are clear,” Phillips said. “And to appoint someone who was a chief deputy prosecutor in a county where my client is housed during the pendency of this trial, I don’t understand.”
As for Perry, he may assist the attorney general in the appeal if asked, but other than that, his work is done.
“We got the verdict that we believed we would get when we proceeded with this case. You know, and the term closure gets thrown around quite a bit. I don’t think there’s any such thing,” Perry said.
Phillips also says he is considering again representing Hagan for the appeal, and if not appointed through the court, could do it free of charge.
(This story was originally published August 2, 2018)