Trial of county official begins

Commissioner, Crothersville educator accused in firearm theft

The trial of a Jackson County commissioner and Crothersville educator on a felony charge of theft of a firearm began Tuesday with jury selection in Jackson Circuit Court.

Andrew B. “Drew” Markel, 35, of Seymour also faces a misdemeanor charge of conversion in connection with the investigation into his purchase of a Smith & Wesson Shield model 9mm handgun with a stolen gift card June 4, 2016, according to the probable cause affidavit signed by Indiana State Police Detective Matt Loyd.

That purchase occurred at Bite the Bullet, a gun shop in downtown Seymour where Markel, who also is an assistant principal at Crothersville Junior-Senior High School, worked part time, Loyd said.

Markel’s attorney, Mark Dove of North Vernon, said at the time of his client’s indictment on those charges in January that Markel had done nothing criminal and he looked forward to defending himself.

Special Prosecutor William B. Nash is representing the state because Markel is an attorney and the son of Jackson Superior Court I Judge Bruce Markel III. Senior Judge Chris Monroe is presiding over the trial, which is expected to last three days, according to court records.

According to court records, the Seymour Police Department began the investigation in June 2016 after the owner of the business reported Markel had purchased a handgun with a gift card originally issued to a customer Dec. 26, 2015.

That customer had purchased the used handgun from the store but later decided to return it, according to court documents. The customer received a $255.73 refund, which was put on a gift card to be used for a future purchase, Loyd said.

On Jan. 7, 2016, the customer came back to the store to look at other guns, and he and Markel got into a confrontation. At that point, Markel’s employer told him to refund the money on the customer’s card and “zero it out,” according to court documents.

The gun shop owners were able to determine that when Markel purchased the Shield handgun, he had used the customer’s gift card, Loyd said.

Markel later told the owners he thought he had used a $100 gift card he received from a relative for the purchase, according to court documents.

Loyd said on June 10, 2016, Markel apologized for the incident and said he had made an honest mistake. He also included a $257 check.

At the time of his indictment, Dale Simmons, co-general counsel with the Indiana Election Division, said an elected official convicted of a felony is not eligible to hold public office according to Indiana Code 5-8-1-38. A person, however, can serve with a misdemeanor conviction, he said.