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Judge Denies Gag Order In Murder Case
Updated April 22, 2014 6:41 AM | Filed under: Crime
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taylor flynn.jpg
Taylor Flynn

(BEDFORD) - Lawrence Superior Court II Judge William Sleva did not issue a gag order nor a change of venue for Austin Curtis who appeared in court on Monday.

18-year-old Curtis is one of three teens accused in the slaying of 43-year-old Rodney Allender. Curtis is charged with felony murder and robbery involving serious bodily injury.

Bloomington Attorney Sam Shapiro, who is representing Curtis, filed a motion to limit pretrial publicity and if that could not be done, wanted the trial moved to another county.

Shapiro argued that the pretrial publicity could affect Curtis' ability to receive a fair trail.

Sleva denied the gag order.

Prosecutor Michelle Woodward stated the prosecutor's office will exercise reasonable care in making statements to the press.

Woodward added that some of the information that has been contained in various newspaper articles, including that found in probable cause affidavits, comes from public record and dissemination of such information can't be inhibited.

Sleva agreed with Woodward.

Judge Sleva opted to leave the change of venue motion as "pending," telling Shapiro that a hearing in the matter could be scheduled at a later time if the defense requested it.

Also charged with the murder are 19-year-old Taylor Flynn and 16-year-old Dillon Hicks. Flynn is scheduled to appear in Lawrence Superior Court II for a pretrial conference at 3 p.m. on April 28. Hicks is scheduled to appear in Lawrence Superior Court II at 9 a.m on May 1.

All three are accused of going to Allender's home on Feb. 27.

Officers from the Lawrence County Police Department were called to a home at 1758 Dutch Ridge Road after Clinton Allender and his girlfriend arrived and found Rodney's body. According to an autopsy report, Allender died of blunt force trauma.

According to police, the teens had planned the attack and had staked out Allender's home for several days before committing the crime.

To trick Allender into opening his door, Flynn allegedly dressed up like a girl and requested to use the phone.
Allender was then shot in the leg by Flynn and the other teens repeatedly beat Allender and then tied him up.

Police say the teens allegedly hit and tased repeatedly until Allender gave them the combinations to his safe.
The teens allegedly ransacked Allender's home and stole money and guns.

Officers found the home in disarray with furniture overturned, a door ripped off the hinges, a desk emptied and papers thrown around and two safes open and emptied. Police noted there was blood throughout the home.

Rodney Allender was found in his garage lying on his side with a severe head injury. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Curtis' probable cause affidavit suggests Allender had been hit with a baseball bat as many as 10 times.

Curtis was arrested on March 1 after being questioned by police. Flynn and Hicks had fled to Ironton, Ohio and were arrested the same day. They were then extradited back to Lawrence County.

According to Ironton Police Chief Dan Johnson, an officer remembered seeing the white 1995 Chevrolet Beretta used in the crime during his patrols.

Chief Johnson says Flynn and Hicks fled, leading police on a car chase through parts of the city and into a residential area, where officers stopped the pursuit after the Barretta almost hit several children.

Officers lost sight of the vehicle, but soon found it again. The teens stopped the car and then fled on foot and police found them hiding in the back of a van.

According to Hicks and Flynn's probable cause affidavits:

A Bedford North Lawrence High School student told police that Flynn, Hicks and and third person had come to his house on Feb. 27 and bragged how they had "robbed a big guy who lived in the middle of nowhere." According to the witness, Flynn said he had used a stun gun and a taser on the man.

Flynn then threatened the witness, saying if he told anyone Flynn "would harm, even kill" him.

A "face covering" that Hicks had been wearing was found in the woods near Empire Quarry. The teens also allegedly hid the gun used to shot Allender in the area of the cemetery near the quarry. But the teens allegedly returned and retrieved the gun, but couldn't find Hick's mask.

A search warrant was issued for the white 1995 Chevrolet Z26 Beretta Flynn was driving on Feb. 27. The teens used the vehicle to transport the money and the guns from the crime scene in Heltonville back to Bedford. The same vehicle was driven to Ohio.

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