- Associated Press - Friday, December 19, 2014

CROWN POINT, Ind. (AP) - A judge on Friday denied a prosecutor’s request for the military and school records of a northwestern Indiana man charged with strangling two women and suspected of killing five others.

Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter told Judge Diane Boswell on Friday his office was looking into Darren Vann’s background because it is considering whether to seek the death penalty against the 43-year-old Gary man, The Times of Munster reported (https://bit.ly/1DRM7u8 ).

“We clearly have to understand what we have,” Carter said. “The death penalty at some point is coming, everyone knows that.”

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Michael Woods said the state is also seeking the records as a way to verify Vann’s previous statements to detectives in anticipation of the defense trying to get the statements dismissed.

Defense attorney Teresa Hollandsworth argued that prosecutors shouldn’t be granted the subpoena because the records aren’t related to the charges against him.

“The basis for it seems thin and stretching,” Hollandsworth said.

She also argued the request was premature because Vann doesn’t yet face the death penalty.

Boswell denied the motion for the military and school records, saying they weren’t relevant to the case as it now stands.

Vann is charged with murder in the deaths of 19-year-old Afrikka Hardy and 35-year-old Anith Jones, of Merrillville. Police say Hardy was found at a Hammond motel on Oct. 17 and that Vann led investigators to the bodies of Jones and five other women inside abandoned houses in Gary. Three of the women still haven’t been identified.

Vann on Friday waived his right to appear at future court proceedings unless the court indicates he is required to appear.

“I’ll probably leave it in my attorneys’ hands most of the times,” Vann said.

Carter objected, arguing Vann’s absence could be used for future appeals because he could argue his attorneys didn’t fully inform him about their defense strategy or that he wasn’t informed about court proceedings. Hollandsworth said Vann told her that he’ll never come to court unless required.

Boswell said it was Vann’s right to waive his appearance. She also said the court wouldn’t allow another “fiasco,” referring to Vann’s scheduled Dec. 6 hearing that was canceled because he was not properly dressed to appear in court.

Boswell also granted the state’s request for a DNA mouth swab from Vann despite Hollandsworth’s objection. Carter said the DNA could possibly be used in other cases.

Vann’s next court hearing is Feb. 13.

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Information from: The Times, https://www.thetimesonline.com

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