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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Ind. Courts - "Judge: Made decision with tragic result"

Renee Bruck reported yesterday afternoon in the Madison Courier:

Jefferson Superior Court Judge Michael Hensley explained his decision to deny a warrant request on a stalking charge more than a week after an ongoing domestic abuse case turned fatal.

Hensley issued a statement Monday concerning the stalking case filed against Anthony Russell just days before officials believe he killed his wife before killing himself.

Officials found Anthony Russell, 51, of Deputy, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound Oct. 7 in the 800 block of West Second Street. Less than two hours later, police and the Jefferson County Coroner found 44-year-old Laura Russell dead from multiple stab wounds at the Russell residence in Deputy. * * *

The two deaths came just days before Anthony Russell was due to appear in Jefferson Superior Court for an initial hearing on a felony charge of stalking after allegedly violating a court-ordered no-contact order with his wife.

Prosecutors requested a warrant be issued in the stalking case, but Hensley denied the request and issued a summons for Anthony Russell to appear in court following a three-day holiday weekend.

[Judge] Hensley’s decision to summons the man to court caused some to question why a warrant wasn’t issued sooner.

The story continues with long statements from both Judge Hensley and Jefferson County Prosecutor Chad Lewis. Judge Hensley writes in part:
When I do not find probable cause on a warrant request, I will now issue an order for a hearing to be held on the same day as the warrant request. I am hopeful the new procedure prevents a similar tragedy in the future.
Prosecutor Lewis writes in a long statement that begins:
The prosecutor’s office welcomes any procedure changes the judge is willing to make in an effort to prevent a similar tragedy in the future. The judge acknowledging that court procedure could help prevent another tragic decision is a step forward to combat domestic violence and aid in public safety. We look forward to being involved in that discussion and have several suggested changes.
A story from KREM2 News by Shay McAlister begins:
MADISON, Ind. (WHAS11) – More than a week after the controversial death of Laura Russell, Jefferson County Indiana Superior Judge Michael Hensley has released a statement in explaining his decision as it relates to the incident.

According to police, Anthony Russell attacked his estranged wife in her home, stabbing her multiple times, killing her and then killing himself. The incidents occurred on Oct. 7. The day before Laura’s murder, court documents show the Jefferson County Indiana Prosecutor filed felony 5 stalking charges and a motion to have Anthony arrested. Hensley denied that motion.

In a statement delivered to the Madison Courier on Monday, Hensley said, “I made what I thought to be the correct legal decision. Obviously I made a decision that had the most tragic result possible. “

Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 19, 2016 09:17 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts