News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

January 9, 2014

Second arrest made in New Year’s Eve homicide

Devlin C. Decker charged in beating, stabbing

TERRE HAUTE — A second suspect has been charged with murder in the New Year’s Eve stabbing death of a Terre Haute man.

Devlin C. Decker, 23, appeared via video in Vigo Superior Court 1 on Thursday where he has been charged with felony murder (highest level of felony) and aggravated battery, a class-B felony.

Judge John Roach read information to Decker alleging that the defendant killed Joshua Thomas outside a house in the 2600 block of Dillman Street on the evening of Dec. 31.

Decker was arrested at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday by Terre Haute Police near 25th and Buckeye streets on a warrant Roach issued Tuesday.

“It did take a while to locate one of the defendants,” said Vigo County Prosecutor Terry Modesitt on Thursday morning after Decker appeared in court. “Also, with the courthouse being closed due to the weather, it took a while to get the charges filed.”

Assistant Chief Shawn Keen said police had been looking for Decker since the evening that Thomas died.

Police identified Decker as a suspect in the beating and stabbing of Thomas after interviewing witnesses at the scene, Keen said, but Decker had left the scene after changing his bloodstained shirt inside the residence and exiting out the back door of the house.

Police arrested Phillip A. Evans at the scene of the homicide on Dec. 31 after witnesses identified him as one of two men who had beaten Thomas. He has also been charged with felony murder and aggravated battery.

Keen credited the person who called police about the beating as it was occurring with allowing police to respond quickly, identify suspects and collect evidence.

According to a probable cause affidavit, police found Thomas lying on the ground in front of the house with injuries to his head and cuts on his chest. Police administered first aid, but Thomas was pronounced dead after being transported to Terre Haute Regional Hospital. An autopsy determined that Thomas, who had been stabbed three times, died from a stab wound to the heart that also nicked his liver.

The female homeowner told police that Decker was at her residence when he got into a fight with Thomas because Decker thought that Thomas had touched the woman in an inappropriate manner. Witnesses told police that the men were fighting on the front porch of the residence, but that Thomas was screaming “sorry” and was trying to get Decker to stop fighting. The witness said that Thomas was struck several times, was hit over the head with a wooden table and was kicked in the head when he was down on the ground. A second male – later identified as Evans – also attacked Thomas, the court document states.

Multiple witnesses identified Decker as the suspect from photo lineups, police report.

Decker is being held without bond in the Vigo County Jail. His next court date is Jan. 15, which was set in connection with an unrelated criminal case of intimidation, disorderly conduct and public intoxication that allegedly occurred in June 2013.

A public defender has been appointed for Decker, and his trial date has been set for June 16.

Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or lisa.trigg@tribstar.com. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.

 

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