Indiana Daily Student

Multiple local criminal cases to keep an eye out for in 2018

A handful of notable local criminal cases, some involving IU students and staff, are working their way through the court system. We’ve compiled updates on a handful of them below.

Teens charged in former IU medicine director murder

Two teens were charged in December in connection with the murder of Kevin Rodgers, the former director of the IU School of Medicine.

Kevin Rodgers, IU School of Medicine program director emeritus. Courtesy Photo

Ka'ron Bickham-Hurst, 18 at the time of his arrest, was charged with one count of murder, two counts of burglary and four counts of theft after allegedly being involved in a robbery of Rodgers’ home in northwest Indianapolis. During the robbery, Rodgers was shot and killed. 

Bickham-Hurst is scheduled to appear at 9 a.m. Jan. 30 in Marion Superior Court for a pretrial conference, a proceeding where the defense and prosecution update the court on the status of the case.

A 15-year-old was also arrested in connection with the robbery and murder, but his name and specific charges are not public because of his age. 

Man accused of pushing woman out of wheelchair, sexual assault

Austin Bishop, 20 at the time of his arrest, was charged with two counts of rape in November after a Bloomington woman accused him of threatening her with a knife, pushing her out of her wheelchair and sexually assaulting her. 

He is also charged with criminal confinement and sexual battery.

Bishop told police the incident happened because he forgot to take medication for a mental illness. The woman knew Bishop previously and had let him into her home. 

He is scheduled to appear at 2:30 p.m. Jan. 29 in Monroe County Circuit Court for a pretrial conference. 

Fates differ for those accused of Brittany Sater's murder 

Three people were charged with the 2016 robbery and murder of Bloomington resident Brittany Sater. Johnny T. Moore, one of the three alleged co-conspirators, was tried and convicted of murder, burglary and robbery resulting in serious bodily injury in April 2017. 

All witnesses to Sater’s shooting, including Sater herself in a video taken before her death, agree Moore was never in her house when Sater was shot. The other two alleged co-conspirators, Billie Jean “BJ” Edison and Dennis Webb, were allegedly in Sater’s home attempting to rob her when Webb shot her, according to court testimony. 

Moore knew Sater through drug business. She was a lower-level dealer. The prosecution argued Moore orchestrated the burglary that led to her death, making him responsible for her murder. The jury agreed, and he was sentenced to 77 years in prison in May. He has since filed an appeal of his conviction. 

Edison and Webb both initially entered pleas of not guilty. However, Edison is scheduled to change her plea Jan. 22 and is likely to receive a plea deal. She said during Moore’s trial she was promised a deal in exchange for testifying against him.

Webb changed his plea to guilty, and in August, he was sentenced to 63 years in prison. 

Four men using Whisper arrested on charges of child molestation  

Four men, including two IU students and one IU graduate, were arrested in February 2017 on charges of child molestation after allegedly having sex with a 13-year-old girl they met on the social media app, Whisper.

Police said evidence suggests the men knew she was underage. 

Matthew Filipek and George Pearcy were IU students at the time of their arrests. Thomas Snape graduated from the IU Kelley School of Business in 2015 with a degree in accounting, according to his LinkedIn page.

Mugshots of Matthew Filipek, George Pearcy and Thomas Snape.

Filipek entered a plea of not guilty in February and was released on bond. He is scheduled to appear in court at 2:30 p.m. Jan. 30 for a pretrial conference.

Pearcy also entered a plea of not guilty in February and was released on bond. He is scheduled to appear in court at 2 p.m. March 27 for a pretrial conference. 

Snape also entered a plea of not guilty in February and was released on bond. He most recently appeared in court in November and does not have another appearance scheduled yet, according to online court resources. 

Evan Miller, the fourth man arrested, has not posted bond. He is scheduled to appear in court at 2:30 p.m. Jan. 30 for a pretrial conference. 

IU student faces rape charge

James McGovern, an IU student at the time of his arrest, was charged with the rape and criminal confinement of another IU student in February 2017 after he met up with her at a bar downtown and brought her back to his apartment.

He has entered a plea of not guilty and was released on bond. He is scheduled to appear in court at 3 p.m. March 28 for a pretrial conference.

Daniel Messel faces trial for rape 

Daniel Messel, the man convicted of murdering IU student Hannah Wilson, was charged with a 2012 rape in the fall of 2016 after he was linked to the case by DNA evidence. He is currently seeking a change of venue for his trial on the rape charge.

Mugshot of Daniel Messell, 49, of Bloomington, charged with the murder of 22-year-old Hannah Wilson.  Courtesy Photo

A hearing for the change of venue is scheduled for 10 a.m. Feb. 26.

Daniel Messel had begun serving his 80 year sentence for Wilson’s murder at the time he was charged with rape. He tried unsuccessfully in 2017 to appeal his murder conviction.

In the 2012 case, a student reported that a man she did not know offered her a ride after she had been out drinking, according to the probable cause affidavit. He drove her to a secluded parking spot in the woods near Griffy Lake, where he sexually assaulted her.

She tried to fight him off, and he hit her so hard it “knocked the contact out of her eye and she was spitting blood,” according to the affidavit.

The man drove away, and the student found help from residents nearby. The woman’s underwear was found at the scene the next day.

After reading a news story about the Wilson case, the 2012 victim felt her case was “eerily similar” and called police to say she believed Messel might be her attacker.

DNA collected in 2012 from under her fingernails was compared to Messel’s, and the samples matched. Messel was charged in 2016 with the rape a few months after his conviction for Wilson’s murder.

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