The eighth day of the Isaiah Hagan murder trial ended after conflicting testimonies from his parents.
Hagan, 23, is accused in the shooting death of 20-year-old Halee Rathgeber. Her body was found at the Alcoa Soccer Complex east of Newburgh on May 1, 2017.
Donna Hagan, Isaiah Hagan's mother, took the stand on Friday afternoon and was asked about her interactions with her son around the time of the incident and during the investigation.
Statements from Hagan's mother had already been a concern in the case when Hagan's attorney, Mark Phillips, argued that her statements shouldn't be allowed in the trial.
Phillips argued that statements made by Hagan's mother should not be accepted as they were made after a private conversation between her and her son and after officers told her she may be subjected to penalties including being charged with obstruction of justice if she did not tell officers what was said in the meeting.
Phillips made the argument after information arose in relation to the fact that Hagan was allowed to meet in private with his mother after telling officers he was "done talking." At that point, He argued that officers should have ensured that any information divulged would be in the presence of an attorney.
However, Warrick County Circuit Court Judge Greg Granger denied the motion and Hagan's mother was allowed to testify in the trial and detail to the jury all conversations between her and her son.
Then, on Friday, Donna Hagan told the jury her son admitted to the crime.
"He told me that he shot Halee on accident and that later he took the gun and threw it in a dumpster behind a liquor store," she said.
But, the statement she made on Friday contradicted several other statements she had made
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previously, including statements she made to officers and in sworn statements made in the hearing last December.
The judge allowed the trial to recess shortly after the statements after Phillips told the court that neither party expected to hear those testimonies from Hagan's mother. Granger agreed to allow time for both sides to gather documents to continue questioning Hagan's mother.
"The defense and the State heard this for the first time and it's contrary to everything we've heard at this point," Phillips said.
On Monday, as questioning continued, Donna Hagan began to make contradictory statements about her interactions with her son. In fact, she agreed when Phillips asked if she would acknowledge she said some things that were untrue.
Then, Hagan's father, Wandel Hagan, was called to the stand.
Warrick County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Levi Burkett asked Hagan's father about money left on the counter by Hagan the morning after Rathgeber was killed. Hagan's father previously told officers that Hagan had left money and a note for his father.
However, on Monday, Wandel Hagan told Burkett, despite being shown transcripts of his conversations with officers, that he didn't tell officers that information and didn't remember any money or note being left. After several other contradictory statements Hagan's father said he was having a hard time remembering his interactions from the time of the incident.
"This is a stressful time in my life -- I don't remember," he said.
Information gathered from Hagan's parents also contradicted statements made by police that a gun missing from the Hagan's home must have been used in the crime. Hagan's mother said her son didn't even know where the guns were kept in the house and his father said he hadn't actually looked for the gun for several months before discovering it missing when officers searched the house.
The Hagans are two of 19 witnesses who have been called by the prosecution so far in the trial.
The trial began with jury selection on Wednesday, May 30, with opening statements and evidence beginning on Monday, June 4. Now, the trial continues as witnesses continue to testify in the case.
On Tuesday of last week, the jury heard from officials who performed the autopsy, and other law enforcement officers before hearing from the lawn mower who found Rathgeber's wallet on the side of the road and Ansley Bowles, a friend of Rathgeber's who received a text stating Rathgeber was planning to go to the home of Thaddeous Rice and Jordan Hughes to get her wallet.
On Wednesday of last week, the morning started with Hagan's friend Jacob Allen who said he told police he didn't think Hagan killed Rathgeber. Allen and Bowles stated that Rathgeber was the godmother of Hughes's 10-month-old son, Jaxson Wheeler, who died just a few weeks before Rathgeber did on April 12 from a severe head injury.
Rice is currently in jail, charged with the death of Wheeler and will face a trial this fall.
"I believe she was killed in retaliation for the baby's death," Allen told the court.
The jury also heard from Warrick County Sheriff's Office Det. Jarrett Busing and saw a surveillance video from Rathgeber's apartment showing Rathgeber arriving shortly before Hagan and leaving together before Hagan returned alone several hours later. Proceedings ended on Wednesday after the jury heard from the individual who planned to purchase music festival tickets from Rathgeber and Hagan's former roommate.
On Thursday, the parties spent the majority of the morning discussing an issue with a witness refusing to testify. Hughes' lawyer indicated to the court that she intends on exercising her Fifth Amendment right to not answer any question in the trial. While the prosecution chose to release her as a witness, Phillips said he still plans to call her as a witness for the defense.
Later in the afternoon, the prosecution called Special Agent Kevin Horan with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, but ended up dismissing the jury shortly after beginning his questioning to discuss legal matters and recessed for the day picking back up with Agent Horan on Friday morning.
On Friday morning, Horan described to the jury the cell phone location data for both Hagan and Rathgeber around the time of the incident before the jury heard from Donna Hagan.
The trial has been scheduled to last until the end of this week, but may continue into next week. At the evening recess on Monday, Warrick County Prosecutor Mike Perry told Granger that the prosecution intended to call seven more witnesses and show a video of the interrogation of Hagan that is more than seven hours long.
After the prosecution brings their witnesses, the defense will have the opportunity to call witnesses and present evidence before the case goes to the jury for a verdict. If the jury finds Hagan guilty, a secondary trial process will commence to bring aggravating and mitigating factors in order for the jury to decide whether Hagan will be sentenced to life in prison or a number of years.
Continue to follow The Standard for more updates as the trial continues.