The man police have linked to the robbery and slaying of a Seymour man just more than a week ago told a judge Friday that he was innocent and wanted a speedy trial.
Daniel L. Combs, 32, of North Vernon, who is accused in the April 30 shooting death of Gilbert L. Engle, 42, of Seymour, asked Jackson Circuit Judge Richard Poynter to grant him his Sixth Amendment right during his initial hearing.
“I’m innocent, and I want a trial,” Combs said.
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Engle died of a single gunshot wound to his chest after police said Combs shot him following a night of partying and drug abuse at Engle’s downtown Seymour apartment, according to a police report.
Combs, along with Jessica L. Jarrell, 21, and Andrea M. Hollin, 25, both of North Vernon, robbed Engle of methamphetamine and marijuana before fleeing Jackson County in a stolen PT Cruiser, police said.
It took less than 36 hours for police to catch the three.
Combs, dressed in an orange-striped jumpsuit, was at the jail during the video teleconferencing hearing with Poynter.
Poynter said he wanted to make sure Combs understood what he was asking for, saying once it’s set, it’s set.
“If you want one, we’ll set you one,” Poynter said.
Combs agreed, and Poynter set a trial date of 8:30 a.m. July 7. Combs also asked for a public defender.
Combs faces eight felonies in connection with the incident, including two counts of murder. The second murder count stems from the fact Engle was murdered during the commission of another felony crime. In this case, robbery.
The other counts Combs faces are robbery resulting in a serious bodily injury, a Level 2 felony; conspiracy to commit armed robbery, a Level 3 felony; and unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felony, a Level 4 felony. He also has Level 6 felony counts of auto theft, theft of a firearm and possession of methamphetamine.
Prosecuting Attorney AmyMarie Travis asked Poynter to withhold a bond due to Combs’ lengthy criminal history, which includes a burglary conviction against a handicapped woman in Jennings County and the fact that he is addicted to drugs and has no job or permanent address, she said. Poynter agreed to her request.
Both Jarrell and Hollin also had their initial hearings via videoconferencing Friday afternoon.
Jarrell and Hollin cried, sobbed and even hung their heads at one point while Poynter read the counts against them. The women face one count of robbery resulting in serious bodily injury, a Level 2 felony; robbery, taking property by force or threatening to use force while armed (conspiracy to commit), a Level 3 felony; and three Level 6 felonies of theft of a firearm, auto theft and possession of methamphetamine.
Poynter entered not guilty pleas for both women and set October trial dates. Jarrell, who has a conviction of battery causing bodily injury, said her family is trying to hire her an attorney, while Hollin, who is a mother of two with no previous criminal history, said she wanted a public defender.
The two had $100,000 bonds set.
The events that led to the three arrests began April 30 when police were dispatched to a second-story apartment at 207 N. Chestnut St. in downtown Seymour after a report of a gunshot.
Police arrived and found Sean Webb outside the apartment. He said he had found Engle, his roommate, lying on Engle’s bed with blood near him, according to the probable cause affidavit.
Webb, who is not a suspect in the case, had been outside walking his dog around downtown Seymour when Engle was killed, police said. During an interview with police, Webb said he went to bed around midnight listening to music.
In the midst of the investigation, Hollin went to the Seymour Police Department and admitted she had been at Engle’s apartment when he was killed, according to court documents.
She revealed she had been dating Combs for about a week when they went to Engle’s apartment the night of April 29. They went there to buy and use drugs with Engle and his girlfriend, Jarrell, police said.
Police said Combs and Jarrell also had once dated. Jarrell said she broke up with Combs to be with Engle in order to make Combs jealous. She told police, however, she grew “fond” of Engle and even lived with him for two weeks.
On the night of April 29 and early the next morning, Hollin said the group used methamphetamine, marijuana and heroin, and also some of them left the apartment at various times to do laundry, go shopping at Walmart and buy food at McDonald’s, according to court documents.
At one point in the early morning of April 30, Hollin said she awoke on the couch and noticed that Combs and Jarrell were in the bathroom together while Engle was in his bedroom, police said.
Thinking that Combs was cheating on her with Jarrell, she left the apartment, but Jarrell came after her to explain they were making plans to tie up Webb and Engle and steal Engle’s drugs, police said.
Hollin said she and Jarrell then went back inside the apartment, injected themselves with heroin and talked about the plans with Combs, who also had Engle’s 9-millimeter handgun, according to police.
Jarrell told police Combs told her and Hollin he was going to hold Engle at gunpoint and rob him, according to court documents.
While Hollin took the stolen keys to the PT Cruiser, which Engle was borrowing from his ex-wife, Jarrell and Combs went into Engle’s bedroom. They had Engle’s keys to the locked cabinet where Engle kept the drugs, police said.
Jarrell, who later turned herself into police, said in an interview that when they walked into Engle’s bedroom, he woke up. Combs decided to put the gun to Jarrell’s back “to give the impression that she wasn’t in the robbery,” according to court documents.
Jarrell said Engle lunged toward Combs and yelled, “Give me that,” and Combs fired two shots, according to court documents. One of the shots struck Combs.
In Hollin’s interview, Jarrell told police Combs admitted to shooting Engle, and also told her Engle had a knife at the time, police said.
Jarrell and Combs ran out of the apartment and caught up with Hollin outside, where she was standing with Webb. Webb went to check on Engle while Jarrell, Combs and Hollin fled in the PT Cruiser on State Road 11 toward Columbus. Hollin said Combs had the gun in his lap at they traveled. They also threw their phones out, police said.
Eventually, Hollin got out of the vehicle at a gas station in Columbus and then came to the police department. She admitted to police she was involved in the robbery but had “no idea” the other two would harm Engle, police said.
Jarrell stayed in the vehicle until they reached Hamilton County, where she said the PT Cruiser ran out of gas. She turned herself in to police in Jennings County a little more than a day later, according to court documents.
Police said Combs left the vehicle behind and was caught on a separate methamphetamine charge by police in Arcadia in Hamilton County on May 1.
The gun and the vehicle were recovered by police.