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Court moves murder trial date

The murder trial involving a Marion man found dead on a city street in 2020 was continued according to court officials Tuesday.

Police accuse Cody Ryan Hickman, 28, of stabbing 30-year-old Deandre J. Oliver multiple times on the arm and chest before fleeing down the Cardinal Greenway in Marion on the morning of Feb. 26, 2020. Police found Oliver’s body, near a Gold SUV, without a pulse near the intersection of Meridian and 20th streets around 8 a.m., according to a probable cause affidavit.

Hickman was formally charged with two counts of felony murder, robbery resulting in serious bodily injury (Level 2 felony), battery by means of a deadly weapon (Level 5 felony) and battery resulting in moderate bodily injury (Level 6 felony), according to court records.

Police say they found a “large amount of blood on the front door” at 604 E. 20th St. after receiving a tip that a witness observed a black man running from a residence and a gunshot being fired. When officers knocked at the door, Anderson Jackson exited the home “covered in a red substance,” according to police reports.

A shell casing was located in the roadway at 20th and Brownlee streets, police say. Police also recovered a duffel bag containing the wallet and identification card of Hickman from the residence at 604 E. 20th St.

An off duty officer reportedly told investigators that he saw a white male with dreadlocks and tattoos, later identified as Hickman, running down the Cardinal Greenway near 25th and Adams streets around 7:30 a.m. that morning.

Police say Hickman was possibly driving his brother’s car, a 2009 blue Mazda, which was found at 2608 S. Meridian St., near the Cardinal Greenway. A homeowner in the area said they first saw the car parked there around 8:30 a.m. that morning.

“Detectives also observed what appeared to be fresh shoe prints going up to the Cardinal Greenway from the vehicle,” the affidavit states.

During a search of the Mazda, police confiscated a cell phone with a red stain on it that was wedged between the seat buckle and center console, according to court records. Police say the phone was identified as Oliver’s Samsung. Police also reportedly seized two handguns and a single live round. One of the guns had a red stain, court documents state.

On the phone, police reportedly found photos of both Hickman and Oliver together from the night before the homicide. The last photo was taken around 5:50 a.m. at the 604 E. 20th St. address that morning showing Hickman and Oliver together, police say.

A witness nearby the crime scene said she heard a female scream around 7 or 7:15 a.m., a gunshot around 7:15 a.m. or 7:30 a.m. and a “shadowy figure” running east toward 604 E. 20th St.

Police took Hickman to the Marion Police Department after he was located with “a fresh wound” on his right hand, “consistent with punching someone,” authorities said.

An Indiana State Police laboratory reportedly confirmed that the shell casing located at 20th and Brownlee streets was fired by one of the firearms located in Hickman’s vehicle, according to the affidavit. Police say blood tested from the gun found that Hickman and Oliver were both likely contributors to the DNA discovered on the weapon.

“The DNA profile is at least 1 trillion times more likely if it originated from Deandre Aliver and Cody Hickman than if it originated from two unknown, unrelated individuals,” the affidavit states.

Investigators detail a situation in which they received information from within the Grant County Jail regarding the case. Police claim Hickman said he stabbed Oliver over an argument over a female and that “it” happened following an argument and fight between them. Police say Hickman possibly stabbed Oliver after he thought Oliver was reaching for his gun, according to the information obtained from conversations overheard in jail.

A woman interviewed by police as a witness inside the home where the incident took place said she “saw no problems” while she was at the home. She reportedly said she left to pick up children and take them to school around 7:15 a.m. but later received a call from Hickman around 7:30 a.m. asking for a ride, the affidavit states. The witness testified that she picked Hickman up near the skate park, which is about a block from where the off duty officer claims to have seen Hickman running down the Cardinal Greenway.

Multiple stab wounds was ruled as the cause of death, and the manner of death was ruled a homicide, according to police reports.

This story will be updated once a trial date is scheduled and released to the media.

Animal organizations work together toward common goal

Marion Animal Care and Control (MACC) and the Marion-Grant County Humane Society are working together to reach a common goal, according to current management.

This week, the humane society posted on Facebook that they were running low on cat litter, due to the loss of a donor.

“I was getting scared. We had just a little bit left in our storage,” said the Humane Society shelter manager Angie Martz. “It was like looking at all these litter boxes like, what are we going to do?”

Brittney Shrout, the Shelter Manager of MACC, said she had some extra cat litter and offered it to Martz.

“She’s been a good resource for me,” Martz said.

More than helping each other with supplies, the two shelter managers said they are working together for a common goal.

“...to help every dog in Grant County that we possibly can and educate the public,” Shrout said.

Both shelter managers are involved with the Animal Abuse Task Force and try to spread awareness of local ordinances, involving spay and neuter requirements for Marion pets, the no-chain law, and the overpopulation of stray cats.

According to Martz, many outlying towns, including Gas City and Upland, currently lack basic ordinances regarding spay/neuter and no-chain laws. Shrout said she would like to see outlying towns adopt the same ordinances Marion has created.

Both shelters have been recently overwhelmed with surrendered dogs and kittens.

“In July, we were overwhelmed,” Martz said. “I didn’t have a space open in this shelter.”

According to the shelter managers, the issue stems from many people not doing proper research before getting a pet.

“There’s no ugly puppy,” Martz said. “The most popular age that we get dogs is one year old or right under a year because they are done with the puppy stage and they are chewing everything up.”

Shrout said she has seen more German Shepherds and Huskies this year than ever before.

The shelters also have issues with the amount of kittens surrendered. MACC had over 500 kittens surrendered this year, and the Humane Society had over 300.

“Once we get one out, five more come in,” Shrout said. “It’s not slowing down.”

Spay/Neuter ordinances in the surrounding areas should help control the amount of kittens, Martz said.

“We’ve got to figure out something and these cities, they’ve got to help us figure this out,” Martz said.

Both shelters have programs that aim to make spaying and neutering affordable for people in the community. Both offer microchips and regular vaccines, and MACC offers vet services on Tuesday-Thursday from 1-4 p.m.

Both shelters need donations of wet dog and cat food, “liquid gold” as they call it. MACC is also in need of towels and metal food bowls. The humane society needs volunteers and disinfecting bleach.

James Dean Festival returns this week

The Fairmount Historical Museum is sponsoring the 45th Annual Remembering James Dean Festival and James Dean Run Car Show this weekend in Fairmount at Playacres Park.

The James Dean festival has been occurring annually since 1976 and is free to the public. Last year, the festival was cancelled due to the pandemic, but Fairmount Historical Museum President Christy Pulley Berry is more than excited to welcome everyone back this year.

“I’m happy to be back after being shut down last year,” said Pulley Berry. “Welcoming the fans and visitors back to Fairmount is huge. It makes me very happy.”

The Fairmount Historical Museum will remain open during the event weekend. Admission is $5 for adults and free for those 17 and under with a paid admission. The collection includes Dean’s clothes, artwork from grade school, trophies, scripts, and much more.

“Where else in the world could you go to celebrate James Dean?” said Pulley Berry. “He is one of the coolest people to ever walk the planet.”

The Fairmount Lions Club is hosting the kick-off party Thursday at 5 p.m. on main street featuring cars manufactured before the 1980s.

The festival will officially begin Friday and includes a James Dean look-alike contest, a parade, a car show, a swap meet, a rock lasso contest, a 50’s dance contest, carnival rides, and live entertainment, including performances by Indiana native Henry Lee Summer on Friday.

Broadway actor Dominic Scaglione Jr. from “Jersey Boys” will be hosting the World Famous James Dean Look-Alike Contest this year. Every year, contestants push their resemblance to Dean further. Individuals have reenacted scenes from Dean’s Giants by covering themselves with molasses to resemble motor oil while others commit to multiple costume changes.

“It’s a really, really good time,” said Pulley Berry.

Floats and classic cars will be on display during the Grand Parade on Saturday. Tootie Titus, the Grand Marshall, will be attending.

“Everyone in town knows her, it’ll be nice to see her smiling face,” said Pulley Berry.

The 42nd annual James Dean Run Car Show will officially open Friday and continue into the awards show on Sunday. Over 2,000 cars are planned to be registered for the car show and many different awards are up for grabs. There will be a live chop demonstration throughout the weekend that will transform a classic car into a custom model.

“I want people to come and enjoy the museum and the festival, see what we have,” said Pulley Berry. “It is very important that people come and take a look around.”

For more information, call 765-948-4555 or email fair mounthistoricalmuseum@gmail.com.

Supporting others for World Alzheimer’s Day

Alzheimer’s disease is commonly called a family disease because its presence affects the entire family, not just the patient.

Sabrina Wilds, the facilitator of a Marion support group for caretakers of patients with memory loss, expressed the importance of Alzheimer’s awareness on Tuesday, World Alzheimer’s Day.

In Grant County, there are numerous resources for Alzheimer’s patients, families, and caregivers, including support groups and memory care facilities.

Wilds believes that support groups are more than helpful for those who work with dementia and Alzheimer’s patients everyday.

“Through the support group, we didn’t just develop a safe space to share with one another. We developed friendship, we built a bond, we shared in our compassion for one another,” said Wilds.

Wilds ensures that the conversation flows between the participants, but no one is required to participate beyond their comfort zone.

Wilds believes that support groups foster intercommunication between caregivers and families that cannot truly be achieved elsewhere.

“You have people in place that you can call upon, that you can talk to, that can help you,” said Wilds.

The recommendation comes from Wilds’ idea that the caretaker begins to experience exhaustion and their own health may begin to decline without the support of others in similar situations.

Support groups for those affected by Alzheimer’s and those interacting with patients lead to a sense of comfort and community according to multiple participants and organizers of other support groups across Indiana.

Therefore, support groups for caretakers and families can have a significant impact on the lives of those affected and may lend to future research for a cure.

Unfortunately, the support group has been postponed due to the pandemic, but Wilds encourages all members and future inquiries to reach out to her and other participants.

“I am working with clients via telephone, email, and that way,” said Wilds. “If anyone needs any support, if anybody needs any help, they can certainly contact me.”

This year’s focus for World Alzheimer’s Day, chosen by the Alzheimer’s Association, is early signs for Dementia.

Although Alzheimer’s usually begins in the late 60’s, people can show signs as early as their 30’s. Early-onset Alzheimer’s can impact anyone at almost any age.

Early-onset Alzheimer’s has many different warning signs, but the most common and well-recognized is memory loss that may affect daily life.

Other early signs include issues with problem solving, difficulty completing familiar tasks, issues with time or space awareness, self-isolation, poor judgement, mood changes and more.

Alzheimer’s is a debilitating disease that affects around 500,000 people every year, most of which are 65 or older.

To cope with these early signs and the presence of Alzheimer’s, a support group may be able to help.

Support groups are not limited to those who care for a loved one with late-stage dementia. Participants range from experiences with early-onset Alzheimer’s to having lost a family member to Alzheimer’s.

Many general and specialized support groups exist in Marion, but space may be limited.

For more information about Wilds’ support group, call 765-662-3929 or email sabrina.wilds@edwardjones.com.

Scoops: Local news briefs published Sept. 22, 2021

Pennsylvania Avenue bridge closure

On Sept. 27, 2021, the bridge on Pennsylvania Avenue, which crosses the Mississinewa River, will be closed for deck removal and replacement. The bridge will be closed until a unspecified date in spring 2022. Anyone who commutes using the bridge is encouraged to seek an alternate route. Contact the Grant County Highway Department for more information at 765-677-6044 or highway@grantcounty.net.

COVID: Local dashboard update

At least eight people from Grant County suffering from COVID-19 have died since Monday’s update according to data provided by the Grant County Health Department Tuesday. The total number of Grant County residents confirmed to have died with COVID-19 now sits at 204.

The Grant County Health Department said at least 53 new confirmed COVID-19 cases were reported Tuesday. That figure is a one day total. That brings the total number of positive cases recorded locally to 9,854.

The state of Indiana reported a one-day total of 2,673 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday. At least 937,221 total cases have been confirmed in Indiana since the pandemic began. The state confirmed at least 81 more people died with COVID-19 complications according to data reported Tuesday. The total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 stand at 14,765 for the state.

Stock + Field undergoes rebrand

People who shop at the local Stock + Field will notice yet another name change in the coming weeks. The store, formerly called Big R before 2018, will now be called R.P. Home & Harvest.

A company release states that the store will “provide quality products essential to rural lifestyles.”

As the new ownership group has stated in the past, their prime motivation for reopening these stores was to save jobs and invest in rural America.

“We primarily serve small and medium size communities,” said Robert Plummer. “Retailers like us can often be one of the top employers and sales tax generators in the area. We saw an opportunity to breathe life into these economies and keep good, hard-working people employed,” company officials said.

Shooting suspect to appear in court

The man accused of shooting an Indianapolis man on the 900 block of West 10th Street on Sept. 7 will appear in court today to face multiple felony charges related to the incident that left the victim hospitalized, according to court documents unsealed Tuesday.

Fred J. Winters, 64, of Marion, was arraigned on a Level 3 felony charge of aggravated battery, a Level 4 felony charge of unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon and a Level 6 felony charge of pointing a firearm, court records state.

Law enforcement says Winters “created a substantial risk of death” when he reportedly shot 59-year-old Jeffrey Whitehead, of Indianapolis, in the chest around 10 p.m. Tuesday Sept. 7 before fleeing the scene.

Police say they found Whitehead lying on the floor in the front room of the home.

“A witness stated that Whitehead and another male were arguing in the residence for an unknown reason,” Marion Police Department officials stated. “The witness stated that the male subject pulled out a handgun and shot Whitehead.”

Police and EMS performed lifesaving techniques on Whitehead, who survived the incident. Whitehead was listed in stable condition two days following the incident, and no updates were provided by police regarding his current status.

Marion Police Department officials said the case is still under investigation.

Officials urge the public to call the Marion Police Department at 765-662-9981 or Crime Stoppers at 765-662-TIPS if anyone has information about the shooting.

Bond is set at $30,000.

The initial hearing will begin at 8:30 a.m. in Grant County Superior Court I.