News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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February 27, 2014

Boswell’s new trial date set for Oct. 27

TERRE HAUTE — An Oct. 27 trial date has been set for a Riley man charged with the 1979 murder of a Riley housewife and mother, Kathy Jo Baker.

Richard Boswell Jr., 57, has already been through two mistrials. His third trial had been set to commence in May, but a change in defense attorney resulted in the rescheduling of the trial.

On Monday, attorney Michael Slagel was substituted as attorney to replace Luther Garcia, who represented Boswell in two previous trials in Vigo Superior Court 6. The change of trial date was granted Thursday.

Boswell was arrested in October 2010, after a cold case investigation into the May 22, 1979, murder of Baker and the attempted murder of her then 2-year-old son, Ryan. The toddler was struck in the head and left for dead near his mother’s body in a remote area northeast of Riley.

The case went unsolved for years until a person submitted a tip to police in 2008 about a possible killer in the Baker case. The new suspect from that tip was ruled out after the investigation was reopened by the Indiana State Police. But DNA technology, not available at the time of the murder, was used to review evidence in the cold case. The test of a tiny blood spot on a shirt found on Baker’s body resulted in a DNA match to Boswell.

His DNA profile was in the state’s computerized system because of his 1991 conviction for criminal confinement and criminal deviate conduct. Boswell served 15 years in prison on that conviction. During his time in prison, Boswell was befriended by another Vigo County resident who testified about statements Boswell allegedly made during his incarceration.

During Boswell’s first trial in January 2013, the inmate made a statement that Boswell had said that he “killed another woman.” Because that statement had been ruled inadmissible before the trial, and the witness had been ordered not to refer to that statement, Judge Michael Lewis declared a mistrial.

The case was reset for trial in April 2013, and much of the same evidence was presented to a new jury, minus the “jailhouse confession” statement.

But in the closing arguments of the second trial, the deputy prosecutor restated the “jailhouse confession” in error, resulting in the judge’s declaring a second mistrial.

 

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