Murder trial may be delayed

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Owen man faces charges in connection with death of man dumped on I-64

By Molly Haines

Nearly two years have passed since James Monroe’s body was found dumped on the side of Interstate 64 in Frankfort, and a trial for an Owen County man charged with the murder could be delayed once again.
Joshua Hammond, 32, of Owen County, and James Simons, 37, of Grant County, are charged with murder, first-degree assault, first-degree robbery and tampering with physical evidence following the alleged murder of Monroe on May 5, 2012.
A third defendant, David Bruce II, 46, was also charged but pleaded guilty in July 2013 to the amended charges of criminal facilitation to murder, second-degree robbery, second-degree assault and tampering with physical evidence.
The three men allegedly planned to rob Monroe after they bought prescription drugs from him in the Walmart parking lot on Leonardwood Drive in Frankfort.
The three allegedly beat and strangled Monroe to death, who was found dead May 6, 2012 on the side of I-64 in Frankfort.
Hammond appeared in a Franklin County court Feb. 3.
According to the State-Journal the court previously granted a motion to sever the cases so Hammond and Simons would be tried separately.
Hammond’s trial had been scheduled to begin Feb. 24, but a motion for continuance was made by defense lawyer Guthrie True after Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd granted the prosecution’s motion to amend some wording in Hammond’s indictment.
According to the newspaper, Commonwealth’s Attorney Larry Cleveland wanted all four charges on the indictment to state that the defendant’s were acting either alone, or in complicity with each other.
Cleveland also wanted the indictment to specify that the assault and murder charges could have been committed “intentionally” or “wantonly.”
According to the newspaper, Cleveland said acting intentionally or wantonly can lead to a conviction, even if jurors don’t agree on which mental state the defendant was acting under.
Shepherd agreed to allow the changes, saying the decision on whether the crimes were committed intentionally or wantonly would be up to the jurors and how they evaluated testimonies from witnesses.
True argued he would need additional time to prepare so he can present a defense against both intentional and wanton mental states.
According to the newspaper, Shepherd said he wanted to examine past case law before he made a final decision.
If True’s motion for continuance is granted, Simons’ trial will still be held in March.
Simons is currently at the Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center in LaGrange and is being evaluated for competency and criminal responsibility, the newspaper said.
A continuance would push Hammond’s trial back to May, to allow the trial to be heard by a different jury pool.