PRINCETON — Citing a dramatic increases in COVID-19 cases in Gibson County, Gibson Circuit Judge Jeffrey Meade vacated the December trial dates for a Fort Branch man charged with murder.

Jacob Wilson has been in custody since his arrest in connection with the shooting death of Samuel Bethe of Buckskin in 2018.

He was scheduled to be tried in December, and defense attorneys had filed a motion to sequester a jury.

Judge Meade made the ruling Thursday over the objection of the defense and prosecution, noting in his order, “In addition to guaranteeing that the rights of the defendant are protected, the court has a further obligation in protecting the safety and welfare of the community that assist the trial courts. With several promising COVID-19 vaccinations on the horizon, the trial court feels this action is necessary in the balancing of both interests.”

He ordered the defense and prosecution back to court Jan. 8 to choose a new trial date.

Wilson and co-defendant Ashley Robling were accused of shooting Samuel Bethe, setting his trailer on fire and then stealing his truck and driving to Paducah, Kentucky, where they stole another vehicle.

Robling was sentenced this summer to 50 years in the Indiana Department of Corrections, with five years suspended to probation, after a plea deal in Gibson County Superior Court.

The two were arrested in Union County, Illinois after authorities found the stolen car wrecked and found them hiding near the vehicle, according to police reports.

Bethe’s body was found in his burning Buckskin mobile home in March 2018 by emergency responders. The affidavit of probable cause seeking charges against Wilson says an autopsy showed Bethe died of a gunshot wound to the head.

— Email Andrea Howe at

— Email Andrea Howe at

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