Alternate theories disallowed in trial on 4 deaths

A judge is blocking testimony about other possible suspects during the trial of a man charged with killing four people in a southern Indiana home.

Bartholomew County Judge Steve Heimann ruled this week that testimony about such theories in the May 2013 deaths would be inadmissible because they were based on either speculation or hearsay, The Republic reported.

Prosecutors are seeking life in prison for 56-year-old Samuel Sallee for the shooting deaths of a woman and three men in Waynesville, a small community outside Columbus.

Defense attorney David Nowak asked the judge earlier this month to allow the jury to hear statements or testimony that would imply the killer could be an unknown drug dealer who got into a heated telephone conversation with shooting victim Thomas Smith on the day of the attack, or a neighbor who was shot by Smith five years earlier.

Nowak said the judge's decision not to allow the testimony "won't make or break our case."

The judge did grant a defense request to delay until Feb. 16 the start of Sallee's trial, which had been set to begin next week.

Sallee faces four counts of murder in the deaths of Smith, 39; 53-year-old Katheryn Burton; Smith's longtime girlfriend; and two friends, Aaron Cross and Shawn Burton, both 41-year-old Columbus residents. Authorities have said the shootings happened during a possible methamphetamine deal.

Sallee has denied killing the four people, whom he said were his friends.

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