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Lawyer: Judges’ shooting case rife with ‘speculation and conjecture’

May 31, 2019

Nearly a month after two judges were shot on the streets of Indianapolis, after which the alleged shooter and his accomplice walked free, an attorney representing one of the arrested men in his probation violation case said the unusual nature of the prosecution and lack of information released about the case has left it “open to speculation and conjecture.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said Friday, “I can’t answer that,” when asked whether the men police arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and other potential charges remain suspects or persons of interest in the judges’ shootings.

Alfredo Vazquez was arrested along with Brandon Kaiser as suspects in the early-morning May 1 shooting of Clark Circuit judges Andrew Adams and Brad Jacobs outside a downtown White Castle restaurant. The southern Indiana judges were in Indianapolis for a judicial conference, and published reports said they had been bar-hopping into the wee hours before the shooting.

Kaiser was booked on preliminary charges of attempted murder, battery, aggravated battery and carrying a handgun without a license. Vazquez was preliminarily charged with assisting a criminal.

Days after the arrest of Kaiser and Vazquez, however, Curry declined to file formal charges “at this time.” Police had placed Kaiser, the suspected shooter, and his nephew, Vazquez, at the scene through nearby video surveillance. Both Kaiser and Vazquez were released from jail after charges were not filed, though Indianapolis police stand by the arrest of the men in connection with the shootings.

“I’ve been practicing law since 1998, and I don’t think I’ve seen an investigation handled in quite this manner from all sides involved regarding the shooting side of it,” said Greg Spencer, the Indianapolis attorney who appeared in court to represent Vazquez at his probation violation hearing Tuesday. The Indianapolis Star reported Friday that details surrounding the shooting investigation emerged in that hearing.

“I’ve never seen a homicide prosecution go the route this is going,” Spencer said in an interview Friday with Indiana Lawyer. “The time involved to investigate, to make an arrest, then to disclose information to the media, and then decline to file without an explanation? … There certainly have been cases filed on less evidence.”

Spencer said he has not represented Vazquez in connection with potential charges arising from his arrest as a suspect in the judges’ shooting. He said he doesn’t believe either Vazquez or Kaiser were represented by counsel before they were released from jail after Curry’s office declined to file charges.

Both Adams and Jacobs are recovering, but neither has returned to the bench. The judges have not commented publicly on the case, referring questions to Jeffersonville attorney Larry Wilder, who said in a statement to the Star, “They both continue to recover, surrounded by their family and friends. … They are taking every step mandated by their doctors and are looking forward to full recovery and return to the bench.”

Curry spokeswoman Peg McLeish replied to IL questions about the status of the case with a brief statement Friday but declined to answer specific questions. “The matter before the Court on Tuesday was an alleged probation violation based on possession of a firearm. Any further evidence regarding the firearm reference remains under investigation,” she wrote. “No new information is available regarding the investigation of the shooting which is believed to have occurred on May 1. When information is available, we will release it to you.” 

Prosecutors alleged at Vazquez’s hearing Tuesday that he violated his probation from a prior misdemeanor drunken-driving conviction by possession of a firearm found in his home after a search warrant was executed. The warrant had been obtained in the investigation into the judges’ shooting, Spencer said, but the Star reported that prosecutors told the court Tuesday that tests to determine whether the 9-mm handgun was connected to the shooting had not yet been completed.

Spencer said the search warrant is the lone piece of evidence he has been provided as he represents Vazquez in his probation violation case. He confirmed he would petition the court to remove Vazquez’s monitoring device he wears as a condition of probation, a move prosecutors object to. Vazquez’s next probation hearing is scheduled for June 25.

Spencer, who served as a Marion County homicide prosecutor from 2007 to 2012, said the unusual sequence of events in the case lends itself to speculation, particularly in a case of mass interest not just in Indianapolis and southern Indiana, but in the statewide legal community as well.

“I think a lot of people find the lack of information frustrating,” he said. “… It certainly leads one to believe there may be factors at play that are not in your ordinary everyday case.”

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