Defendant in murder trial seeks bond under new high court ruling

2013-11-25T17:55:00Z 2013-11-25T23:38:34Z Defendant in murder trial seeks bond under new high court rulingStan Maddux Times Correspondent
November 25, 2013 5:55 pm  • 

LAPORTE | Defense attorneys for a man accused of killing a LaPorte girl in 1993 is using a recent decision by the Indiana Supreme Court to argue for bond to be set for their client.

Jason Tibbs, 38, remains in LaPorte County Jail without bond after LaPorte Circuit Court Judge Tom Alevizos in October denied a request by the defense to establish bail.

In denying the request, Alevizos ruled murder defendants at least in his courtroom traditionally have been ordered held without bond, an option provided under Indiana law.

On Friday, Tibbs' attorneys filed a motion claiming Tibbs is entitled to a hearing on his request for bail and to be denied bond according to the Supreme Court's recent decision the prosecution now must prove its criminal case against him by a "preponderance of the evidence."

Defense attorney Scott Pejic, of Michigan City, said the previous request for bail was denied based on evidence gathered by police in a probable cause affidavit that resulted in Tibbs being charged with the strangling death of 16-year old Rayna Rison. Pejic said police findings to achieve probable cause is a ''lower evidentiary standard'' than what's now required by the Supreme Court.

In its June 25 decision, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled for any murder suspect to be denied bond the burden now is on the state to show that "the proof is evident or the presumption strong" the defendant committed the crime.

Previously, the Supreme Court said a suspect in a murder case carried the burden of demonstrating proof and presumption were not strong that he or she committed the offense to have bail set in the case.

LaPorte County Prosecutor Bob Szilagyi said he will oppose the second request for bond.

To keep Tibbs behind bars until his cases reaches a conclusion, Szilagyi said his office may now have to reveal to the court a statement Tibbs made to the police more than 20 years ago when first questioned about Rison's disappearance then later her death to attain the higher evidentiary standard outlined in the Supreme Court ruling.

The defense is currently attempting to stop the prosecution from presenting that still undisclosed statement as evidence in the criminal case.

Szilagyi said other previously released statements including those from an alleged eyewitness who claims he saw Tibbs strangle Rison also will have to be used to try and keep Tibbs held without bond.

He said murder is a serious enough charge to warrant being held without bond and if allowed to post bond any defendant charged with such a major offense could be a greater risk to flee.

"We'll leave it up to the judge," said Szilagyi.

Pejic said the Supreme Court ruling still falls way short of "beyond a reasonable doubt" necessary to obtain a conviction but might have some influence on the outcome of Tibbs' latest request for bond.

"I really can't say how any judge will apply the standard," said Pejic.

A hearing has been scheduled fro 9 a.m. Jan. 14 to hear arguments on Tibbs' request for bond.

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