PRINCETON — The first day of the trial of an Evansville man charged with murder in connection to the shooting death of Buckskin resident Samuel Bethe ended in a mistrial Monday.
Jacob Wilson, 38, was scheduled to appear for trial at 8:30 a.m. Monday. New dates were set for 8:30 a.m. May 10-19 after the mistrial was granted at the request of defense attorney Shaunda Lynch, with no objection from the prosecution.
Gibson County Prosecutor Mike Cochren said a response made by a potential juror in regard to the case during preliminary questions as a part of jury selection, would have been “very hard, if not impossible” for other potential jurors to ignore.
Cochren said occasionally something is said in a way where the jury could be seen as tainted, and he had no objection, as they recognized that in this instance.
The prosecutor said that he believes a defendant is entitled to a fair trial, and while he doesn’t want to see a continuance, he also would not want to get farther down the line and have it said that a mistrial should have been declared.
Prior to the removal of potential jurors from the courtroom and the request for a mistrial, court records state Lynch also told Judge Jeffrey Meade that 160 photos were just received by the defense.
She asked that any evidence regarding Wilson waiving, holding, or handling a gun be excluded. Lynch asked the judge to dismiss the case, and the prosecution objected.
Judge Meade denied a continuance and the request to dismiss the case.
Meade ordered all prior decisions regarding motions of limine continue, and said all the late/discovered photos are admissible for the defense and will be subject to objection at the time of admission into evidence.
Lynch also objected to the jury trial being held during the COVID-19 pandemic. The court noted her objection.
Wilson and co-defendant Ashley Robling are accused of shooting 62-year-old Bethe, setting his trailer on fire, then stealing his truck and driving to Paducah, Kentucky, where they stole another vehicle.
Robling was sentenced in a plea agreement last year in Gibson Superior Court to 50 years in the Indiana Department of Corrections.
The two were arrested in Union County, Illinois after authorities found the stolen car wrecked and them hiding near the vehicle, according to police reports.
Wilson was first charged with murder March 19, 2018, in Gibson County Circuit Court. Robling was charged with murder in Gibson County Superior Court a month later.
Wilson was also charged with strangulation and battery in connection to an incident in the Gibson County Jail after his arrest.
The Gibson County prosecutor is seeking life without parole if Wilson is convicted.