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Monday, May 2, 2016

Lovett gets bail; trial moving

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

As promised, not one, but two major decisions were handed down by the Clay Circuit Court Tuesday in John Lovett's double murder case for his alleged involvement in the murders of Tonya Pickett and her stepfather, Rick Mustard, in their home 20 years ago.

Recognizing the State of Indiana provides that the charge of murder "is not bailable" when the evidence in a case is considered strong, Clay County Circuit Court Judge Joseph Trout wrote in the order issued Tuesday morning that a jury would have to decide the merit of the "circumstantial evidence" to be presented in the case.

In February, a Grand Jury handed down two murder indictments against Lovett. He was initially ordered a $200,000 bond with 10 percent allowed in March and released from the Clay County Justice Center.

The court later revoked the bond when it was discovered a hearing did not take place before setting the initial bond.

According to Indiana law, proof in a criminal case may be presented by direct evidence or by circumstantial evidence. However, only on the issue of bail, a defendant, including one charged with murder, can challenge the prosecution's evidence during an evidentiary hearing.

When Lovett was returned to jail, the defense set about challenging the evidence in the case in an attempt to allow bail.

During the recent and lengthy evidentiary/bond proceedings, Special Prosecuting Attorneys Delbert Brewer and David N. Powell and Defense Attorney Richard Kammen agreed there was no "direct evidence" connecting Lovett to the murders in their final arguments

It was conceded in final oral arguments by both attorneys that there was not a murder weapon, any statement of confession or admission during the 20-year investigation into the murders, any eye witness to the crime on Nov. 20, 1988, and/or any scientific evidence such as DNA, blood evidence, finger prints, shoe prints or the like that directly ties Lovett to the murder or the murder scene.

With this lack of direct evidence, which was thoroughly reviewed by the court, it was determined the prosecution's case is built on circumstantial evidence.

According to Trout's order, the evidence is not sufficient enough to prevent Lovett from receiving bail and sustained the defense's request for bail.

The previously established $200,000 bond in April is appropriate and will stand, but with no 10 percent allowed.

If Lovett is able to bond out, he will be required to:

* Have no contact (direct or indirectly) with any family members of the victims or the grand jury members,

* Surrender his passport and not be allowed to leave Indiana without an order from the court,

* Report to the Clay County Community Corrections Department twice a week and be submitted to electronic monitoring the final 30 days before the trial,

* Not be able to change his place of residence without permission of the court,

* Sign a waiver of extradition consent,

* Appear in court as ordered for the case, and

* Obey all state, federal and local laws as condition of bail.

The second decision in Trout's court order was about where the murder trial will take place on Feb. 23, 2009.

On June 5, 2008, the defense requested a change of venue from Clay County, claiming that the case was a source of great controversy, publicity, rumor, gossip and innuendo in the community.

It was also brought to the attention of the court that as many as 200 witnesses could be called in the case and, given the size of Clay County, it would be difficult to seat a fair and impartial panel of jurors who would not know witnesses or had been exposed to the case over the years.

Four days later, the prosecution indicated to the court they did not object to the trial jury being selected from another county and brought back to Clay County.

Agreeing the case needed to be judged by fair and impartial proceedings, Trout wrote, "The case should be decided solely on the evidence and the families involved in this case deserve that," before ordering the murder case be venued out of Clay County.

He ordered both parties to provide the court within seven days from the court order their joint agreement as to which county in Indiana to venue the case.

However, if they are unable to agree on a county within seven days, two days afterward, Trout will provide a list of counties to both parties to strike from to determine the venue county where the court proceedings will take place.

As of Tuesday afternoon, jail officials confirmed that Lovett, 37, Brazil, remained incarcerated at the Clay County Justice Center.

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They have nothing on the guy but circumstantial evidence after 20 years of research. The Clay County grand jury reminded me of a heard of sheep being lead in whatever direction the State Attorney felt was correct when the indictment was announced. While I truly believe the family and the city of Brazil needs to have full closure on this case, the state will be in for an uphill battle now that this is moving far away from Clay County. Hang in there Mr. Lovett, it's going to take much more than "He had a fight with his girlfriend the night she was murdered".

There's truth in rumors, especially in the small town of Brazil.

-- Posted by coltsbeer on Tue, Oct 21, 2008, at 6:26 PM

rumors are just rumors not guilty untill provenIf you know so much why dont you come forwart. to the sheriff office you are just another finger pointing gurue

-- Posted by charcar on Tue, Oct 21, 2008, at 7:29 PM

Help me understand how circumstantual evidence improves over a twenty year period. No witnesses. No forensic evidence. No case.

-- Posted by JohnLloydScharf on Tue, Oct 21, 2008, at 7:36 PM

Here's a report that Roger Lindsay was guilty of a class C FELONY but because of statute of limitations he walked away to stroll the beaches of sunny Florida. While this does not link him to this murder case it does prove the amount of corruption taking place in Clay County in the mid to late 80's. After reading the link you must ask yourself, is a cover up out of the question?


If rumors are indeed just that then why did circumstantial evidence presented to the grand jury seem strong enough to come back with a true bill for indictment? Pretty weak in my opinion Mr. State Attorney.

-- Posted by coltsbeer on Tue, Oct 21, 2008, at 8:45 PM

Susan Young, left, and her sisters, Bonnie Nees and Nancy Hicks read a press release given out by Brazil City Police Chief Mark Loudermilk at a press conference Friday at City Hall. The conference was called because of a Grand Jury investigation resulting in indictments on former officer Roger Lindsay. Lindsay was involved in the investigation of the murders of Tonya Pickett and the women's brother, Ricky Mustard in 1988. Bonnie's husband Randy Nees sits behind his wife.

Ricky Mustard's sisters feel like they have been living a nightmare since the death of their brother on Nov. 18, 1988. Bonnie Nees was 33, Nancy Hicks was 28 and Susan Young was 25 when Ricky, 32, was murdered with his stepdaughter, 16-year-old Tonya Pickett.

They said it was around midnight. A neighbor later told them she heard what sounded like gunshots then very quickly heard sirens. Police found Ricky and Tonya dead, each shot with a single deer slug above the right eye.

Ricky had been in a serious motorcycle accident July 12, 1988. An unidentified driver ran him off the road and the resulting injuries had left him nearly paralyzed on his right side.

Normally he had a sitter with him when his wife was away at work at Shenandoah in Greencastle. For some reason he was alone that night, until Tonya came home. She had gone to a basketball game with her boyfriend, John Lovett. After the game they were going to a dance. But sometime during the evening they had a quarrel and Tonya went home early.

"It's like a nightmare," Nancy said. "Going over and over."

They've had no opportunity for closure. Bonnie said they were never allowed to see Ricky's body, not even the Marine tattoo on his right arm. It was a closed casket funeral.

Brazil City Police Officer Roger Lindsay was involved in the investigation. The sisters were asked if they ever talked with Lindsay.

"He talked to me briefly," Bonnie said. "He was cocky. I didn't like his attitude."

"He was very rude to me," Nancy added. "Even at the funeral."

The women said lack of knowledge made the situation more painful.

"It hurts every time it's brought up," Susan said. "It tears us up. But it hurts more cause they don't keep us informed. I know they can't tell us everything but we have to hear it on the news or in the newspaper.

"We found out about the murders six hours after it happened," Bonnie said. "John called and told us about it. We really appreciated that."

Nancy told of how about five years after the deaths, they contacted Unsolved Mysteries, a TV show that investigates old, unsolved crimes. The program wanted to do the story but said they were refused permission to do so by the City of Brazil.

"Mother (now deceased Helen Lanham) said Mayor Pickett told her it was not a good time for them to come because it was still under investigation," Nancy said. "The ex-mayor ordered a blackout on the case."

According to the sisters there are a lot of unanswered questions.

"Everybody who knows about it ends up dead," Susan said. "People are afraid to talk about it."

The women told of John Torbert, a good friend of Ricky's who died in a car wreck. Mark Simmonson and another man named Cheesman were rumored to be involved, somehow, in the case. They both died at a relatively young age.

"They talk about Ricky and drugs," Nancy said. Ricky did not do drugs. Oh, he liked his alcohol all right, but he didn't do drugs. There was no drugs in his body at the autopsy."

When asked if they had any idea regarding a motive, the sisters said they did not. But they agreed that whoever killed their brother entered the home with the sole intent of murder.

"There was nothing missing," Bonnie said. "And some money sitting on the table was still there. They said that Ricky was very relaxed so they think the killer was someone he knew."

The sisters and Ricky's widow, Cheryl Pickett, had a strained relationship even before the deaths. They do not communicate now.

"I'm not so much angry with Cheryl anymore," Bonnie said. "I know she's suffered too. But I feel like she thinks it's our fault her daughter's dead. We feel like it's her fault our brother's dead. We need each other now. We need to stand together and be more of a family."

Brazil Times dec. 13,2004

Maybe John is innocent?

-- Posted by fitch30437 on Tue, Oct 21, 2008, at 9:20 PM

If it's all circumstantial evidence then why an indictment? Indiana states charge of murder NOT BAILABLE when evidence is considered strong...well,isn't evidence considered strong to bring down an indictment strong enough to follow the law? Apparently not in Brazil. I have no idea on innocence or guilt; that is for the courts to find. But to indict someone after 20 years then let them walk free until everyone agrees to a trial date is a disgrace to Rick and Tonya and their families.

-- Posted by levr.gar on Tue, Oct 21, 2008, at 9:32 PM

Does anyone really think he's going to come up with $200K with no 10% allowed? Judge Trout sure doesn't.

I seriously question why prior bail terms were set at $200k WITH 10% ALLOWED in Feb 2008. Then they hauled him back into court hours later on a technicality of their own mistake.

"The court later revoked the bond when it was discovered a hearing DID NOT TAKE PLACE before setting the initial bond".

How do you make a mistake like that??? Even Judge Judy wouldn't screw that up.

Now EIGHT MONTHS later the judge hands out the same bail but strips away the 10%. Possible community pressure? Who knows how the Judge based that decision. If I worked at the Brazil Times, Trib Star, or WTHI I think I might ask a few questions about that.

Dear Brazilians, the bottom line is everyone wants this to be solved and justice to be served. We need to speak about this case openly and with confidence that the real killer will be identified and brought to justice.

-- Posted by coltsbeer on Tue, Oct 21, 2008, at 11:23 PM

Trout changed his mind about easy bail because this case is costing him voters in the next election and he knows that, as a judge he is a pathetic waste

he judges the evidence that is to be brought against defendant before trial to circumvent bail

his job is not to grant bail based on what he beleives is good evidence its up to the court to find him guilty of any wrongdoing

-- Posted by dovelw on Wed, Oct 22, 2008, at 10:25 AM

God knows!

-- Posted by ibclean76@yahoo.com on Wed, Oct 22, 2008, at 11:05 AM

John should be out his wife and his children need him. He is not a murderer. He is a good father and husband.

-- Posted by godfreyjennifer on Wed, Oct 22, 2008, at 11:46 AM

I don't think a judge who makes a mistake, admits it and corrects it is a pathetic waste. He was trying to carry out the law appropriately, not swing voters. It is not like if he hadn't corrected it any idiot on here would have known the difference (even though for some reason everyone beleives they know exactly how the law ought to work).

No one on here has someone following them around at their job and plastering every mistake they make in the newspaper or on the internet so people can defamate you annonymously. All people make mistakes and I am glad we have a judge who has enough integrity to admit it and make sure that the process is carried out the way it is supposed to be. It is ridiculous how everytime someone doesn't like the way a case is carried out they start throwing around "corruption" accusations...the judge, the prosecutors, the police...

I think that people who constantly accuse someone of corrupt intentions when they have no idea what they are talking about is a pathetic waste...

-- Posted by legal08 on Wed, Oct 22, 2008, at 11:57 AM

I just don't see what the motive would be for John to commit these murders.

Everyone wants this case solved and I hope John gets a fair trial. And I hope both families find peace and this is resolved.

But I would hate to think we could possibly have an innocent man behind bars for the rest of his life while the real killer is out there somewhere.


I also feel Judge Trout is a Great judge, everyone makes mistakes. I'm glad he stepped up to the plate and corrected his.

-- Posted by mywords1 on Wed, Oct 22, 2008, at 12:31 PM

You want to bring up needs godfrey? Rick's boys have needed him the last 20 years. Stick to the issue HERE...bail. and Indiana law states murder not bailable. At least by making it no 10% makes it easier for families to deal with. That's not saying any belief in innocence or guilt, just that no bail should be allowed on the indictment. I really feel sorry for his children but at least they have their Dad.

-- Posted by levr.gar on Wed, Oct 22, 2008, at 2:47 PM

levr.gar i understand what u say. but i know my brother-in-law did not do this.....come on a 17 yr old kid? he would not hurt a soul. i knew tonya from school. we had class' together and i also know john. it is a coverup and he is the one to suffer. do u mean to tell me a cop covered up a twenty yr old murder that a 17 yr old kid commited. for what....???????? we all know it goes deeper then that. i am sorry for the other family. bit convicting the wrong man is not going to solve the problem.

-- Posted by godfreyjennifer on Wed, Oct 22, 2008, at 5:46 PM

Unfortunately, I think this case was botched from the very beginning. Anything that Roger Lindsay had his fingers in,(in my opinion)was tainted. He's worthless!! He couldn't investigate his way out of a telephone booth!

-- Posted by th1953 on Wed, Oct 22, 2008, at 6:41 PM

Whatever happens here, I hope the Mustard and the Pickett families get some kind closure.

-- Posted by Icareaboutbrazil on Thu, Oct 23, 2008, at 7:06 AM

Hmm....after reading that appeal pertaining to R. Lindsay, and reading the time's report on this in 04', this whole case seems really shady.

-- Posted by Pro Se on Thu, Oct 23, 2008, at 7:56 AM

was Lindsy onder supervision of Mayer Pickett and why did he call a black out . I think some one knows something. Hou can you live with this.John loved tonya REsume the bodys and run test on R mustard . WE need new edivence.

-- Posted by charcar on Thu, Oct 23, 2008, at 10:45 AM

Judge Trout is to be commended for admitting a mistake and rectifying it. He and his family are beacons of this community and have unquestioned integrity and character. The Ex-APPOINTED TEMPORARY Judge and his cronies are spouting off whenever they can.

I see this case as simply a weak circumstantial evidence case and I believe that if there was strong evidence that something would have broke. I guess we will see what the Proscecutors have in the near future.

-- Posted by rdevil8 on Thu, Oct 23, 2008, at 11:03 AM

Tell me is this the first case of trout reversing himself on a case of course not,remember one of his major statements was the belief people should not sit in jail while bail was available a thought from his defense trial lawyer days,and Joe isn't as sparkle clean as you think I knew him as a classmate at Staunton high school as well as college

and he also defended a few family members in lawsuits so I think i can say I know the man well thank you very much

-- Posted by dovelw on Thu, Oct 23, 2008, at 11:22 AM

charcar were you on drugs when you wrote that comment? I can barely understand any of it.

-- Posted by Pro Se on Thu, Oct 23, 2008, at 12:05 PM

Um....first Joe Trout has NEVER been a criminal defense attorney. He was a Deputy Prosecutor for about 10 years in the Vigo County Prosecutors office.Secondly, Trout accurately followed the law in setting bail in a case that all the lawyers would agree is based soley on circumstantial evidence. That doesn't mean the Defendant is not guilty and bail does not mean the Judge thinks him innocent. It is a quirk in the law that does require bond when the evidence is less than ironclad.

-- Posted by trapperman on Thu, Oct 23, 2008, at 1:20 PM

To dovelw

I am surprised you went to college as you are clearly unable to form a complete sentence. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Please stop trying.

-- Posted by legal08 on Thu, Oct 23, 2008, at 2:10 PM


Are you trying to tell us that Joe Trout may have made a mistake or two while he was in high school when you went to school with him. Sorry he picked you last in kickball but the world has moved on.

Wow, I will have to re-think how well I regard Judge Trout and his family (not).

-- Posted by rdevil8 on Thu, Oct 23, 2008, at 2:45 PM

Pro Se

Maybe you were on drugs when you were reading Charcar's OPINION..it makes perfect sense to me.

-- Posted by mywords1 on Thu, Oct 23, 2008, at 5:09 PM

to charcar:

why would you want to dig up Ricks body? He was in the hospital for 3 months 15 days of it he was in a coma and had to learn to talk and talk again! He was back home only 3 weeks prior to being murdered.

-- Posted by skycirrus on Thu, Oct 23, 2008, at 8:07 PM

Sorry ,,, thats walk & talk again.

-- Posted by skycirrus on Thu, Oct 23, 2008, at 8:08 PM

Joseph Trout. Firm: Wagner Crawford Gambill & Trout. Address: 416 S. 6th St. Terre Haute, IN 47808

I think you better rethink that..this is where he was working before he ran for judge

-- Posted by dovelw on Thu, Oct 23, 2008, at 8:40 PM

Who cares what Judge Trout did when he was going to Staunton School or while he was in College. Did he murder or rape anybody? No, I don't think so. Judge Trout is a good moral man who is involved in his community and has a wonderful family. I'm sure whatever he did when he was young was probably a lot less offensive than the things most of us did when we were young. I don't always agree with the decisions that Judge Trout hands down, but he is a good and trustworthy person. This case is not the typical case a Judge in a small community deals with, so it's not really shocking that he wasn't aware of the rule about the bond hearing. The Special Prosecutor has been involved in criminal cases for over 20 years and he didn't immediately catch it, neither did our local prosecutor or the other Judge in the building. I think Joe gets a pass on this one.

-- Posted by Unsolicited opinion on Thu, Oct 23, 2008, at 9:48 PM

Wagner, Crawford Gambill & Trout....Personal Injury and Medical Malpractice Attorneys

They are Plaintiff's attorneys, not criminal defense attorneys.

You obviously looked up the address and failed to read the add...imagine that.

-- Posted by legal08 on Fri, Oct 24, 2008, at 7:42 AM

Pro Se

Maybe you were on drugs when you were reading Charcar's OPINION..it makes perfect sense to me.

-- Posted by mywords1 on Thu, Oct 23, 2008, at 5:09 PM

Sorry, can't say that I was. Maybe I should draw a picture for you, and post all of her misspelled words and then the correct spelling beside them?

-- Posted by Pro Se on Fri, Oct 24, 2008, at 7:52 AM

are you suggesting the honorable Joe Trout Of clay county was a ambulance chaser,but you know one other point here was brought up, how do you set the first bail without a actual hearing?

Do you just call that in and say okay here is the bail we will set it at this amount

after all these months after listening to all the pressure of how the wind was blowing Joe buckled

Mr Lovett should had been released on the prior bail

after all he already made that, after all didnt Joe say this case was pretty much all circumstantial evidence

-- Posted by dovelw on Fri, Oct 24, 2008, at 9:39 AM

As usual, people get off the topic after so long of complaining.

This isn't about the character of the Judge 20 years ago. So everyone bringing that up is just stirring the pot of discontent and slamming an honorable man of this community because you don't have anything else to complain about. You wouldn't say that if we were all standing face to face, you'd be ashamed of yourselves!

The point is simply this:

Although a charge of murder USUALLY doesn't allow a defendant an opportunity for bail, Indiana statute allows that IF the evidence is not STRONG enough to hold a person in jail (circumstantial) that person has the opportunity to challenge the prosecution's case for BAIL.

Considering this case is 20 years old, I imagine it is completely circumstantial in nature. (I've lived here my whole life, so it doesn't surprise me but IT is a shame that political/police corruption is part of the history of this case, and people need to realize that creates huge mountains for both the prosecution and the defense to climb in this search for justice.)

I don't know anyone involved in this tragic event, but apparently everyone wants some type of closure.

Judge Trout followed normal case law when Lovett was arrested. This isn't a normal case and the minite a mistake was discovered not only Trout, but the PROSECUTION and the DEFENSE admitted to being a part of it. They set about fixing that mistake.

And although we, as the public, love grinding our boots into public officials who SCREW UP...we need to let this legal nightmare play itself out.

Hate this trial is leaving our county, i would have sat in the gallery to watch and learn more about it, even if there was 200 witnesses to testify. I can put aside 6-8 months to watch this historic event.

I hope justice is finally served and everyone involved can find peace.

-- Posted by Cy on Fri, Oct 24, 2008, at 11:29 AM

-- Posted by Icareaboutbrazil on Mon, Oct 27, 2008, at 7:33 AM

Wouldn't it be cheaper to keep the trial here and just get a jury from another county? I know that has been done before. Maybe I am being a little curious like Cy, but I would like to see this stay close. Now the families of all parties included will have to travel to attend.

-- Posted by Icareaboutbrazil on Mon, Oct 27, 2008, at 7:45 AM

I was going to travel from Indianapolis before the trial was suspended not out of curiosity but because Rick was my cousin. I will travel again if they ever decide where to hold the trial. As for charcar, as his sister said, why test his body for more evidence? What kind of evidence do you hope they find? He was brain damaged. Question here is, are you brain damaged?

-- Posted by corgimom64@yahoo.com on Wed, Oct 29, 2008, at 12:10 PM

I cannot believe someone can be so stupid to say dig up Rick's body! You are really a sick person. Get to the REAL PEOPLE who have SUFFERED here. His Father, Mother, Sisters, but more than anyone his CHILDREN! Keep spouting off about how much him and his family need each other- what do you think it has done to his children? Not only to grow up without their Dad but to grow up with the horror of his death and no justice? The nightmares were beyond terrifying, the taunts they suffered from kids at school were uncalled for but as with most things heard from their parents. And you speak of digging him up? Trying to put it all back to something on him? Rick was a good man and a good Father and was robbed of that- don't go speaking of someone you knew nothing about! S-I-L? why don't you ask your family who turned evidence on John?

-- Posted by levr.gar on Sun, Nov 2, 2008, at 4:29 PM

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