- Associated Press - Friday, April 22, 2016

CROWN POINT, Ind. (AP) - An Indiana man who confessed to killing seven women will stand trial at the same time for the first two cases, a judge ruled Friday, but defense attorneys plan to appeal the decision.

Lake Superior Court Judge Samuel Cappas turned down a defense request to separate Darren Vann’s cases in the killings of Afrikka Hardy, 19, and Anith Jones, 35. Vann currently is scheduled to go on trial July 25. If the cases were separated, it would result in two trials.

That still could happen. Defense attorney Gojko Kasich asked Cappas to certify the findings of fact in his ruling because the defense intends to appeal the case to a higher court for review, The (Munster) Times reported (https://bit.ly/1r58asW ).

The defense has argued Vann, 44, of Gary, could be convicted in one slaying based on evidence from the other because the evidence is complex. He has pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors have determined different motives in the two killings, the defense says.

The Lake County Prosecutor’s Office has argued Hardy died in a “rage killing” when sex between her and Vann became rough. In the killing of Jones, prosecutors say Vann was offered money and drugs to carry it out.

Prosecutors have argued the slayings are similar because Vann contacted both women through a website, strangled each with the same extension cord, and was motivated by anger and sex in both killings.

Vann was arrested Oct. 18, 2014, a day after officers found Hardy strangled inside a Hammond motel room. Hardy had arranged to meet Vann at the motel after communicating via a website, court records say.

Authorities have said that after Vann confessed to killing seven women, Jones’ body was found in an abandoned home in Gary.

Vann was charged last month in the five other slayings. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in all seven cases.

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


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