Two murder suspects certified to stand trial as adults
Robin Y. Richardson
May 3, 2013 at 10 p.m.
Harrison County Court-at-Law Judge Jim Ammerman signed an order Friday, waiving juvenile jurisdiction for both defendants arrested in the 2009 murder case of Bobby Joe Inzer, of Hallsville.
The waiver certifies the defendants, Harley Blake Vaughn and Thomas Dean Richardson Jr., who were both 16 at the time of the crime, to be prosecuted as adults in the 71st State District Courtroom.
"Their case will be presented to the next session of the grand jury," said Rick Hagan, who was appointed as special prosecutor for the state in the case. Joe Black, who was district attorney at the time of Inzer's death, is assisting him.
Following Inzer's death on June 30, 2009, Vaughn and Richardson, who are now both 20, were detained at Willoughby Juvenile Detention Center and charged with murder in conjunction with the homicide.
After claiming self defense, the two were both released from the custody of the juvenile detention. A petition was never filed by the district attorney's office to refute the claims. However, since that time, additional information has come forward, casting some doubt to their claim, leading up to their recent detention.
During a certification hearing Thursday, prosecutors said two new witnesses in the case both indicated to law enforcement that Richardson disclosed information to them about Inzer. Prosecutors said Richardson confessed to one of the witnesses, his ex-wife, that he had planned to kill Inzer.
Lt. Floyd Duncan, an investigator with the sheriff's office, testified that during the time of the murder, the two defendants told officers that Inzer attempted to rape Vaughn while the two were at his home and threatened to kill them both; thus, they shot him in self defense.
Duncan said the two notified Longview authorities about their actions. Longview officials then alerted Harrison County officials, who responded to the scene and found Inzer dead in an underground bunker.
"We could tell that he was shot several times," he said.
Richardson told officials that Inzer, 57, had picked them up from Richardson's house in Longview to help him move a couch to his home. On the way to the residence, Richardson said they made two stops for alcohol and food to take to Inzer's bunker.
Richardson told officials while at the house, Inzer left the bunker to go work out and Vaughn followed behind him. He said Vaughn ran back down in the bunker, accusing Inzer of trying to sexually seduce him.
"He said Inzer was coming behind him saying he was going to kill them (so) they both grabbed a rifle and one shot several times and the other shot four times," Duncan said.
Richardson told officials that Inzer had fondled them both down in the underground bunker before. He said the defendants did shoot Inzer with his own guns, but police never found any weapons on Inzer to support their claim of self defense.
Answering questions from defense attorneys, Duncan said law enforcement was familiar with Inzer because people would call the sheriff's office, expressing concern about alleged activities in Inzer's underground bunker.
"They were concerned about what he had stored down there such as weapons," said Duncan, adding people were also concerned about his alleged seduction of young boys.
During the investigation, Duncan said police recovered some weapons from the home and homosexual-related pornographic videos.
Still, Duncan said he found inconsistencies with the defendants' self defense claim.
"They said he was coming down to kill them and he didn't have any weapons on him from what we could find," said Duncan. Plus, the direction the bullets traveled was inconsistent to where Inzer's body rested.
Duncan said police also didn't find any money on Inzer, who is known for carrying cash.
"We knew from the store he should've had a blue envelope on him. We didn't find one," said Duncan.
Duncan said what was also puzzling was that the defendants didn't immediately call 911 from Inzer's house or a neighbor's house. He said instead, they drove Inzer's truck to Richardson's home in Longview.
"They took the time to go searching all through the house for the keys…and then they shut the gate behind them," said Duncan.
When asked by Richardson's attorney, Scott Rectenwald, why the police didn't continue investigating if they felt it was doubt, Duncan said they were just waiting for new leads.
"We laid dormant until we found new information from the ex-wife at that time," he said.
When asked by Vaughn's attorney, Rick Castleberry, why he chose to send the boys to Willoughby to be charged with murder in light of Vaughn's claim that Inzer had tried to rape him, Duncan said he chose that route because Inzer wasn't a convicted rapist.
"It was an alleged assault of a child, but we did have a body found at the bottom of the stops shot multiple times," said Duncan, "so we treat the case as a homicide…. and let the judge decide.
"You have a body deceased and two actors that shot him. He didn't have any weapons on him," Duncan added. "We had a dead person and he was not dead by natural means; he was shot to death."