EVANSVILLE, Ind. - An Evansville man accused of ramming his truck into a car full of men suspected of robbing his home, killing one of them and injuring another, has been granted immunity that will allow him to testify against several robbery suspects without fear that what he says could be used against him in his murder trial.
Vanderburgh Superior Court Judge Wayne Trockman on Friday granted businessman Ira Beumer and his wife, Maria, immunity to testify in the trial of Nalakeio Bennet, the Evansville Courier & Press reported. Last month, Vanderburgh Circuit Court Judge David Kiely granted the couple immunity to testify against two other defendants whose cases he is presiding over.
The couple previously had invoked their Fifth Amendment right to protection from self-incrimination. Ira Beumer's attorney, David Lamont, said last month that he opposes the immunity order.
"He is in the unique position of being a defendant and witness on opposite sides of the court," Lamont said.
Deputy Prosecutor Charles Berger said he needs the Beumers' testimony to establish that the men invaded their rural Evansville home in February 2012 and struck Ira Beumer with a pistol while robbing them.
According to prosecutors, Beumer chased after the suspects' car and rammed it with his truck, killing 22-year-old Antuan Jenkins and seriously injuring 23-year-old Jeton Hall. Beumer is charged with murder, attempted murder and aggravated battery.
Bennett, Hall and Dezmont Hogan, 25, are charged with burglary resulting in bodily injury, criminal confinement and theft. A fourth man, Eric Weston Dunn, was arrested later and faces the same charges and an additional charge of assisting a criminal.
Berger asked the judges to compel the Beumers to testify with a grant of immunity because he didn't want to drop the charges against the men. The immunity order means that when Beumer stands trial on July 29 prosecutors cannot use anything Beumer might say, or any evidence they get as a result of what he says, against him. But Kiely said in his ruling that the immunity only extends to trials and hearings and does not apply to any attempts by defense attorneys for Hogan, Hall, Bennett and Dunn to take Beumer's deposition.
Trockman also ordered that all defense questions be directly relevant to the burglary.
Bennett's trial is scheduled to begin July 1, Dunn's trial is set for July 22 and Hogan's is slated to start Aug. 19. No trial date has been set for Hall.