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Professor’s Attorney Rests Case in Slaying Trial

April 16, 1991 GMT

NEWPORT, Ind. (AP) _ A professor accused of murder in a homosexual bondage scene allegedly staged for his sexual pleasure was visiting his parents for Christmas at the time of the slaying, defense attorneys contended Tuesday.

Robert David Little, 53, did not take the stand in his own behalf as defense attorneys rested their case Tuesday. But other witnesses, including his elderly mother, testified that Little routinely visited his parents in Tampa, Fla., during Christmas breaks.

Little is charged with murder in the 1982 death of Steven Agan, 23, of Terre Haute. Agan’s stabbed and gutted body was found Dec. 28 in a field near Newport, about 40 miles north of Terre Haute. If convicted, Little could be sentenced to 60 years in prison.

Vermillion Circuit Judge Don Darnell scheduled closing arguments for Wednesday morning. After that, the jury will hear instructions and begin deliberations.

The state’s key witness, convicted murderer Larry Eyler, testified last week that Little helped him kill Agan on Dec. 19, 1982, the day Agan was reported missing from his home.

Eyler, who lived with Little at the time, said he and Little were driving around on the day of Agan’s slaying looking for a sexual adventure when they spotted Agan hitchhiking. Eyler said Agan was bound and gagged, then he and Little stabbed Agan with a knife as part of a homosexual bondage scene staged for Little’s sexual pleasure. He said Little photographed the attack.

Eyler agreed to testify against Little in a plea bargain that saved him from a possible death penalty. Eyler is on Death Row in Illinois for the 1984 dismemberment murder of another young male.

Little, who has been suspended as chairman of library science at Indiana State University, has pleaded innocent.

The prosecution wrapped up its case Monday after three days of testimony. Defense attorneys James Voyles and Dennis Zahn rested Little’s case after about two hours of testimony Tuesday in which they attempted to prove that Little was visiting his parents in Florida when Agan was killed.

Little’s mother, Grace, testified that her son visited her Tampa home every Christmas from about 1958 until 1990, when she moved to a Wisconsin nursing home.

″He never missed a Christmas,″ she testified by videotape.

Little always flew down and arrived ″about a week before″ Christmas, Mrs. Little said. He stayed until New Year’s Eve day, she said.

Mrs. Little said she should could not single out 1982 or any other specific year in her memory, however.

A neighbor of Little’s parents, Vicki Sue Younce, said she picked Little up at the airport before Christmas each year from 1981 through 1988.

″It’s always around the 19th or 18th when he came down,″ she said.

But another neighbor, Gertha Hagy, said Little normally arrived only ″two or three days before Christmas.″ He sometimes came earlier, she said.

Neither could remember 1982 specifically.

Dr. Richard Pless, the forensic pathologist who performed Agan’s autopsy, said he believed death occurred before Dec. 21, 1982. But he conceded Agan could have died as late as Dec. 25.