Professor Accused of Bondage Slaying Found Innocent
NEWPORT, Ind. (AP) _ A university professor was found innocent Wednesday of orchestrating a homosexual bondage murder for his own sexual pleasure.
A jury found Robert David Little innocent after more than seven hours of deliberation.
Little, 53, grinned and hugged his attorney after the verdict was read.
″I’m just so happy the ordeal is over,″ he said.
He had been charged with murder in the death of 23-year-old Steven Agan, whose stabbed and gutted body was found in a field near this western Indiana town in December 1982.
Little, who has been suspended as chairman of the library science department at Indiana State University, had faced a maximum sentence of 60 years if convicted.
The Vermillion Circuit Court jury was urged not to convict a man just because he’s homosexual.
Little’s lawyer, James Voyles, said the state admitted evidence that his client was homosexual to prejudice the jury against him.
″How can you take this man’s sexual preference, his sexuality, which is such a small part of any of our lives and turn it to such a vicious, horrible crime as this without any kind of evidence that it’s connected?″ Voyles asked.
Prosecutor Mark Greenwell said Little’s sexuality was relevant because Agan’s murder and mutilation was a homosexual act.
The state’s key witness, convicted murderer Larry Eyler, testified last week that Little helped him kill Agan on Dec. 19, 1982.
Eyler, who lived with Little at the time, said he and Little went looking for a victim after Little suggested they ″do a scene,″ meaning kill someone for sexual pleasure. They picked up Agan on a Terre Haute street known as a hangout for homosexuals, he said.
Eyler said Agan was taken to an abandoned shed, where he was bound and gagged. Then he and Little stabbed Agan repeatedly with a knife. He said Little photographed the attack.
He agreed to testify against Little in a plea bargain that saved him from a possible death penalty. Eyler is on Illinois’ death row for the 1984 dismemberment murder of another young male.
″It all turned on Larry Eyler,″ Greenwell said after the jury returned its verdict. ″Obviously they were not convinced.″
Voyles and the other defense attorney, Dennis Zahn, rested Little’s case Tuesday after their four witnesses testified that Little routinely traveled to his parents’ home in Tampa, Fla., about a week before Christmas.
Little’s mother, Grace, said her son visited her every year from about 1958 until 1990, when she moved to Wisconsin.
Mrs. Little said her son arrived each year about a week before Christmas and stayed until New Year’s Eve day.
Greenwell wrapped up his case Monday after three days of testimony. He attempted to discredit Mrs. Little’s testimony by offering records showing Little’s car was repaired at a garage near Terre Haute on Dec. 21, 1982. The records did not indicate whether Little himself took the car in.
Little has been suspended as chairman of the library science department at Indiana State University.