Judge to decide bond in LaPorte County murder case

2014-01-16T08:38:00Z 2014-01-16T22:22:19Z Judge to decide bond in LaPorte County murder caseStan Maddux Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
January 16, 2014 8:38 am  • 

LAPORTE | A former suspect in the 1993 slaying of a LaPorte girl was put in the spotlight this week as the current suspect argued for bail as he awaits trial.

The purpose was to show enough weakness in the state's case to give the current defendant, 38-year old Jason Tibbs, an opportunity to post bond until the start of his jury trial.

At a hearing Tuesday, defense attorney Scott Pejic argued Ray McCarty, the brother in-law of the victim, 16-year old Rayna Rison, played a role in the death.

McCarty in 1998 was charged with the murder when indicted by a grand jury but the case was later dismissed.

Pejic brought up Mc Carty's conviction of molesting and impregnating Rison and how Tibbs had established an alibi but the stories given by McCarty on his whereabouts at the time of Rison's disappearance all conflicted and never checked out despite the case being investigated by several different law enforcement agencies, including the FBI.

Pejic also referred to a letter written by a man who once served time in the LaPorte County Jail with McCarty claiming that McCarty indicated to him that he had something to do with the strangling death.

He quoted the inmate as saying that McCarty told him "they could never get him on the case because they planned it too well."

Pejic said McCarty even went to a gas station after Rison's disappearance to try to convince the employees that he was there at the time she was last seen on March 26, 1993, outside Pine Lake Animal Hospital where she was employed.

Tibbs, on the other hand, claimed he was at a mobile home park on LaPorte's east side tutoring and hanging out with some girls.

Pejic said the people Tibbs claimed he was with verified in 1993 that he was with them when Rison was last seen.

However, LaPorte police Detective Brett Airy, who helped reopen the case in 2008, testified those individuals when questioned a few months ago said they had no recollection of Tibbs being with them that evening.

Tibbs was arrested in August after police obtained testimony linking him to the killing from Rickey Hammons, who is now serving time for another murder and Eric Freeman, who now lives in South Carolina.

LaPorte County Deputy Prosecutor Chris Fronk produced evidence that Hammons over five years ago came forward with testimony that he was hiding in a barn on Schultz Road about to smoke marijuana when Tibbs and Freeman pulled in with Rison's body face up in the trunk of a car and heard Freeman yelling at Tibbs asking "why he did what he did."

Freeman also testified several months ago that he was with Tibbs when Tibbs strangled Rison after she turned down his request to start dating again following a break up, said Fronk.

Freeman also claimed he helped Tibbs dispose of the body in a pond in northern LaPorte County and revealed that Tibbs put logs on the body so it would sink.

Fronk said his testimony matches exactly the way Rison's decomposed body was found a month later.

Pejic, though, cast doubt on the testimony from Hammons and Freeman by revealing Freeman was granted immunity from prosecution while Hammons was relocated to another, perhaps, more comfortable prison to serve his sentence for another murder.

Fronk also unveiled evidence that Tibbs told a woman just prior to his arrest that "he accidentally strangled Rayna Rison."

People charged in Indiana with murder typically have been held without bail based on evidence sufficient enough to obtain probable cause.

The defense, though, cited a recent Indiana Supreme Court ruling that prosecutors now have to show a higher level of evidence that a defendant committed a murder for bond not to be established.

LaPorte Circuit Court Judge Tom Alevizos took the motion under advisement and could issue a ruling before the weekend.

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