TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - A cold-case murder trial in Vigo County ended in a mistrial Thursday morning.
Richard Boswell had been on trial through the week on charges he murdered Kathy Jo Baker in 1979 and attempted to kill Baker's young son. The investigation into Baker's death had gone cold until 2010, when police arrested Boswell after finding new DNA evidence.
On Thursday, the third day of testimony, prosecutors called a witness named Joni Bennett, an Indiana Department of Corrections inmate serving time for killing two people.
Bennett was expected to testify that, while he and Boswell were in prison together several years ago, Boswell told him that he had killed a woman. Prior to the trial, though, attorneys for the prosecution and defense had agreed that Bennett would not testify about the rape charge for which Boswell had been in prison at the time.
"It was not to be admissible," said Vigo County Prosecutor Terry Modesitt. "The state realized that, the defense knew that, and the witness was advised accordingly. But unfortunately, he mentioned it anyway."
While being questioned by prosecutors, Bennett said that Boswell had told him that he "killed another woman."
Defense attorney Luther Garcia immediately objected and asked for a mistrial.
"He specifically said my client had killed another woman, which unfortunately … would have left the impression that Mr. Boswell had previously killed women, which is not the case," Garcia told News 10.
Garcia also pointed out in court that, to explain that Boswell had not been charged with killing a woman, he would have had to discuss the existing charge against Boswell.
After a break and some argument between the two sides, Judge Michael Lewis declared a mistrial in the case and set a new trial date for April 1.
Garcia said that new trial would likely have to happen before a jury from another county.
"Because of this individual, it's going to cost this county a considerable amount of money to re-try this case," Garcia said.
It's frustrating to all the attorneys involved in the case because, essentially, the whole week has been lost," Modesitt said. "We have to start all over again."
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