Trial begins for two men accused of killing Sellersburg man duri - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Trial begins for two men accused of killing Sellersburg man during break-in

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JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WDRB) -- The trial for two young men accused of killing a Sellersburg man during an attempted burglary last year began Tuesday morning.

The defendants in this case were both teens when prosecutors claim they broke into a home intending to steal money. Prosecutors say they unexpectedly encountered the homeowner, 48-year-old Stephen Baldwin, and shot him in the chest.

Nineteen-year-old Chris Sowders and 20-year-old Garreth Stephens are accused of breaking into Baldwin's home on March 11, 2013, looking for cash. Police say the men thought no one was home, but Baldwin surprised them, so they shot him. Investigators say Sowders and Stephens were friends with Baldwin's stepson and believed that he had hidden thousands of dollars inside the home.

In opening statements Tuesday, Clark County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Jeremy Mull said they will depend heavily on two pieces of evidence-- Stephens' truck allegedly being parked near the murder scene the day of the crime, and zip ties found inside Baldwin's home with Sowders' DNA on it.

Defense attorneys for both men claimed the state has no physical evidence in the case.

"They did mishandle the evidence there," said Sowders' attorney Perry McCall. "They did not tell the person who analyzed [the zip ties] that my client had been in the home, which changes the whole view of that type of evidence when you're an expert looking to discover DNA."

Regarding Stephens' truck being parked in the area the day of the crime, his attorney Bart Betteau wouldn't give much detail, but said his client is innocent.

"I'm anxious to see what the state's evidence is going to be on the vehicle itself," he said.

The men are being tried together. On several occasions, and again Tuesday, both defense attorneys requested separate trials. Judge Vicki Carmichael denied the request--just as she denied a request for a change of venue.

"I don't understand how this jury will be able to understand this case, understand the facts of the case, and decipher out of everything that's presented that there isn't a shred of evidence against my client," said Betteau.

While prosecutors agree that it will be a difficult case to try, they are adamant that it makes sense and saves time and money to have only one trial.

"Out of consideration for all the money and time it takes out of the court system to try a case, it made sense to try these cases together," said Clark County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Jeremy Mull. "Rather than, in essence, having two trials that look essentially the same and take twice as long."

Both Sowders and Stephens are currently on house arrest.

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