(BROWNSTOWN) - A 29-year-old Jackson County man accused of killing a woman last week and then faking a wreck in an attempt to cover up her death appeared in court Thursday morning.
Aubrey Woods of The Tribune reports, Gerald Eugene Combs Jr., of Freetown, now faces formal charges of murder, arson, a Class B felony, and two Class D felony charges of abuse of a corpse and neglect of a dependent in connection with the death of Tabitha G. Brock, 23, of Seymour.
Brock died sometime late May 10 or early May 11.
Combs told Senior Judge Robert Bennett he understood the charges and potential prison sentences he could face if convicted.
Bennett, a former Washington Circuit Court judge filling in for vacationing Jackson Circuit Judge Bill Vance, said he had some concerns about Combs not having an attorney present for the initial hearing.
"These are pretty serious charges," Bennett said.
"I know they are," Combs said. He told Bennett his mother was working to obtain an attorney.
Bennett, however, said Combs should consider accepting a court-appointed attorney until he learns whether a lawyer can be hired. Combs agreed.
Bennett told Combs his trial had been set for 9:30 a.m. Oct. 9. According to the probable cause affidavit related to his arrest, Combs told two Indiana State Police detectives different stories about what happened the night Brock died.
Combs initially told Detective Craely David that he and Brock had been riding in a Pontiac Grand Am registered to Brock, and that Brock pulled out a match, lit it and "suddenly" caught fire. Combs said. he got out of the car and attempted to pull Brock out before fleeing to the residence they shared.
During a later interview at Seymour Police Department, Combs told ISP Detective Jerry Gentry the incident that led to Brock's death occurred in the hallway near a bedroom of the couple's residence when he struck her throat with the side of his right hand, according to the probable cause affidavit.
Combs told Gentry the two had argued Thursday night when Brock threatened to tell law enforcement that Combs had engaged in illegal activities. He took her body from the residence and placed her in the front seat of the Pontiac Grand Am, Combs told police, drove to 700 North and 1075 East and started a fire in the car, burning Brock's remains.
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