A Feb. 24 sentencing has been set for a Terre Haute man found guilty by a jury in December of murder in the August 2018 shooting death of his 18-year-old friend Gage Eup.
Judge John T. Roach made no ruling Monday morning on defense motions filed on behalf of the defendant, 22-year-old Dylan Morgan.
Defense attorney Paul Jungers has argued jury misconduct and insufficient evidence to sustain a verdict of murder.
However, the judge commented Monday that setting a sentencing date might indicate how he might rule regarding those motions.
The jury found Morgan guilty of murder, altering the scene of a death, obstruction of justice and misdemeanor charges of possession of marijuana and illegal consumption of alcohol. It entered a not guilty verdict on the charge of reckless homicide.
The defense attorney says he learned after the trial that the jury forewoman failed to disclose she personally knew a detective who investigated the case, harming Morgan’s Sixth Amendment rights to trial by impartial jury.
Jungers also claimed insufficient evidence to sustain a murder verdict, instead saying the evidence could only support reckless homicide.
The defense claims the gun has a safety magazine disconnect that should have prevented it from firing with the magazine removed.
Chief Deputy Prosecutor Rob Roberts responded in his own arguments that the forewoman committed no misconduct and did not try to withhold information.
In jury selection, for instance, she advised she knew the defense counsel’s wife because of a business relationship, and she said she knew the defense counsel personally by being a friend of the family, he noted.
“The parties were permitted to question her regarding these relationships or knowledge of potential witnesses that she noted,” Roberts stated.
The detective did not come up because he “was not named because he was not a witness that was being called to testify” and was mentioned at trial only as being present during questioning of the defendant.
Roberts also argued the defendant’s knowledge of the gun in a different light than did the defense.
“The evidence...is that the defendant knowingly fired his handgun at Gage Eup, shooting him in the head, and killing him. The knowingly element is demonstrated by the defendant’s familiarity with the gun, his prior ownership of a handgun, his comfort level in handling the gun on multiple occasions, how he operated the gun, and his statements indicating his understanding of how the gun functions,” Roberts argued.