PRINCETON — The murder trial of a Fort Branch defendant is delayed a fourth time, over the objection of Gibson County Prosecutor Michael Cochren, to allow time for a competency hearing.
Following a conference in Gibson Circuit Judge Jeffrey Meade's chamber Friday, the judge granted a request to delay the planned Jan. 20 trial date of Jacob L. Wilson, who is accused of murder in the 2018 death of Samuel Bethe of Buckskin.
The delay was granted to allow time for court-appointed psychological evaluations of Wilson, requested by public defenders Shaunda Lynch and Roman Ricker to be completed.
The judge set a Jan. 24 hearing to determine Wilson's competency to stand trial to begin at 9 a.m., reserving the full day for arguments. He also scheduled a 9 a.m. Feb. 5 hearing for motions to consider character evidence.
Judge Meade scheduled two weeks for the trial, to start with jury selection at 8:30 a.m. March 9.
Last month, Wilson refused a psychiatric evaluation requested by his defense attorneys, and the judge issued an order to compel Wilson to cooperate with the psychiatrist and psychologist that he appointed Dec. 12 to evaluate whether Wilson is competent to stand trial.
In November, Judge Meade rescheduled the trial from the planned Dec. 9-18 time marked on the court calendar to Jan. 20-31.
Wilson has been in custody since his arrest in March 2018. An unrelated level 6 felony strangulation charge and Class A misdemeanor battery charge will track with the murder case on the calendar.
Co-defendant, Ashley Robling, 29, is scheduled to stand trial in Gibson Superior Court on Feb. 17. A final pre-trial hearing is scheduled for Jan. 22.
They were arrested in connection with the March 16, 2018, shooting death of Samuel Bethe, Buckskin, who was found inside his burning mobile home by firefighters dispatched to the scene. An autopsy report indicated Bethe was shot in the head before the fire, according to an affidavit of probable cause for seeking the murder charges.
Gibson County Prosecutor Michael Cochren is seeking life without parole as an additional habitual criminal enhancement if they are convicted of the murder charges.