Jeremiah Lowe is a free man.
On Friday, two counts of criminal intent to commit capital murder against him were dropped during the fourth day of trial.
Lowe did plead no-contest to a charge of carrying a weapon, a Class A misdemeanor, and guilty to a charge of tampering with evidence, a Class B misdemeanor. Circuit Judge Gordon Webb fined Lowe $500 on the first charge and six months in the Boone County Jail, and $250 on the second charge with three months in jail. Both sentences were to run concurrently, with credit for time already served.
Webb, immediately after adjourning the court, went to his office and began filling out the proper papers. Lowe was taken to the county jail to be processed and released.
Lowe had been on trial for his part in an incident that happened on Feb. 28/March 1, 2015, in which he and two other men attacked two people in a house on Tennyson Loop near Bellefonte. Brandon Martin had been stabbed 18 times, while Hannah Wright had been stabbed seven times.
The dropping of the two more severe charges came after his lawyer, Dan Hancock, had moved for the second time for a directed verdict. Hancock’s first attempt, done the first thing Friday morning, was denied by Webb.
The jury of seven women and five men had been given the case at noon on Friday.
Webb, in an interview with the Daily Times later, said it was at that time that he had received two cases heard in 1987 and 1988, that were precedents cited by Hancock. Webb read over the cases while the jury was deliberating.
At 3 p.m., the jury was brought back in after Webb granted the directed verdict.
“I’m in a position where I feel personally embarrassed,” Webb said. “I was not as aware of the law as I should have been.”
Webb apologized for what he called wasting the jury’s time.
Speaking later, Webb said the basis for his direct verdict decision was the “felony murder rule,” which goes back to English law. A directed verdict says the state does not have enough evidence to support its charge.
As explained by Webb, a residential burglary charge cannot be added onto a charge of attempt to commit capital murder. He understood that prosecutors wanted to get the maximum punishment. He said he could have allowed the jury to render a decision, but the case would have been appealed and ultimately overturned.
In his closing argument, deputy prosecutor Chris Carter said the case seemed very simple. Did Lowe and his associates attempt to murder Martin and Wright?
It was more than that, Carter continued. The episode occurred late at night in the victims’ own home, their private sanctum. If not for the quick work of emergency responders, the victims would have died.
Carter asked the jury to accept the concept of residential burglary, which is occupying a structure with the intent to commit a crime, not necessarily theft, but something like battery.
“They got into the house pretending to be friends,” Carter said of Lowe and his associates, “but they had ulterior motives.”
Carter then asked the jurors to consider the concept of an accomplice.
“That’s what we have here,” he said.
Carter went on to say that Lowe, by putting his arm around Wright, began the attack.
“There’s no question about the cruelty of this attack,” Carter said. “No question about it. He’s all part of this scheme to do harm to these individuals.”
Carter ended by saying that when you look at the totality of the circumstances, you can see why the charges were brought against Lowe and why the state introduced 102 pieces of evidence to show his involvement in the crime.
Hancock agreed that his client was at the Tennyson Loop residence that night. The evidence shows that, he said.
“The question is who did it and why did they do it,” Hancock said.
Hancock also acknowledged that Lowe had some involvement, and that was to hold down Wright. Lowe thought there was going to be a “beat down.”
“What we’re sure of is that Hannah testified she never saw Jeremiah stab anyone,” Hancock said.
Hancock charged that Samuel Lowe was the person who actually stabbed Wright.
The physical evidence, according to Hancock, showed that Jeremiah Lowe never pulled a knife. Wright’s testimony backed it up.
“Going over there and holding down Hannah, was that the right thing?” Hancock asked. “No. Was it consistent with charges of intent to commit murder? Certainly not. Maybe a lesser charge, battery. Jeremiah has admitted what his part was, but claimed he didn’t pull out a knife and stab someone.”