Hagan denied release before trial

Hagan

A Warrick County judge has denied a motion to release Isaiah Hagan after the trial in his case was delayed.

Hagan, 22, of Evansville was originally arrested in April after being accused in the shooting death of Halee Rathgeber, a 20-year-old Newburgh native and University of Southern Indiana student. Her body was found at the Alcoa Soccer Complex east of Newburgh on April 24.

Shortly after being charged with murder, robbery resulting in serious bodily injury and obstruction of justice, Hagan's charges were increased to include life without parole.

Due to court rules in the state of Indiana, such cases must go to trial within six months of the original charges, or the accused must be released. As such, the original trial date was set for Oct. 17.

However, Hagan's attorney, Mark Phillips, argued that delays in receiving evidence in the case made the date unfair leaving the defense unable to argue on information still coming into the office.

After hearing the argument, Warrick County Circuit Court Judge Greg Granger agreed to delay the trial to give the defense more time to work through the evidence in the case and set the trial date to start on Tuesday, Jan. 16.

At the time, however, it was unclear whether the court would be forced to release Hagan due to the rules that demand a trial be held within six months of the arrest date for those charged without the option of bail. At the hearing in October, Granger gave 10 days for the prosecutor's office to give a response to the continuance before coming to a decision.

The parties were set to return to court on Nov. 3, but Phillips' office made a motion to

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continue the hearing and it was rescheduled for Dec. 1. Meanwhile, there was still no word from Granger whether or not the court would uphold the rule and release Hagan or continue to keep him in custody.

On Nov. 13, Phillips made a motion demanding Hagan's release and the issue was assigned a hearing on Nov. 21. Phillips argued that the rule was clear and Hagan would not be a risk.

Phillips called Hagan's mother, Donna Hagan to verify that there would be no weapons in the house. She told the court that the weapons in the home have been removed, but couldn't verify whether or not the weapon reported missing had been found.

"There's one firearm that the whereabouts are still unknown, is that correct," Prosecutor Mike Perry asked during the hearing. "You've never received any information that was found or was retrieved?"

Hagan responded that she had no information on the missing weapon.

Perry also questioned whether or not Donna Hagan would reside in the same house if Isaiah Hagan were to return to the home. Because she works at the Warrick County Jail, her son has been housed in Pike and Posey county jails.

"That's not an appropriate question," Phillips argued.

However, Perry argued that it's only logical that the requirement to house the two in separate locations would need to continue should Hagan have been released.

"We've had a situation where, because of her employment and contact with him, he's been housed in a different situation," Perry said. "There's no difference now -- she's still a potential witness in this case."

The hearing on Nov. 21 closed with Granger promising to make a decision promptly.

On Nov. 22, Granger ordered the motion to release Hagan be denied.

Perry said because the motion to continue the trial came from the defense, the defense should have to deal with the repercussions of that request. More importantly, he said the release would have afforded a privilege to the Hagan's that the Rathgeber's will never have.

"He'd be home," Perry said about the potential for Hagan's release. "He'd be able to be hugged by his parents for Thanksgiving and Christmas and that's not something that they're able to do with their daughter. That ability was taken away from them."

Hagan will return to court on Dec. 18 for a readiness conference and on Dec. 19 for a hearing on the defence's motion to suppress statements made by Donna Hagan during the investigation.

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