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Uncovered evidence postpones man’s trial

March 6, 2019

The murder trial of a Fort Wayne man accused killing his half-brother was postponed after his lawyers uncovered evidence they say could clear him.

An Allen County Jail inmate interviewed Sunday “provided significant exculpatory information,” according to court documents filed by attorney Mark Thoma.

Thoma represents Joshua R. Mackin, 34, who is charged with murder in the Feb. 19, 2018, shooting death of Samuel Westlake, 37, outside a motel on Coliseum Boulevard West. Mackin’s trial had been scheduled to start Tuesday.

Instead, it was pushed back as defense attorneys Thoma and Caryn Garton asked a judge to add Richard Grant : the inmate : to a list of witnesses who could testify at trial. The request was granted Monday.

Allen Superior Court Judge David Zent could set a new trial date Friday. Thoma said Tuesday he hopes the trial begins “sooner rather than later.”

Grant is charged with felony theft and misdemeanor conversion, court records show, and Mackin’s lawyers argue in a two-page motion he has information that could affect the outcome of the trial : though it’s not clear what that information is. Defense attorneys have been trying to reach him since last year.

Thoma received a letter in late December from Grant, who said “he had had a conversation with a ‘Ryan,’ another inmate, but did not want to reveal the details of the conversation in the letter,” the motion states. Grant wrote he would be released Dec. 28 and left a phone number, but Thoma was unable to reach him for weeks.

The lawyer learned Saturday that Grant was again being held at the jail, and he was interviewed Sunday. Thoma said he then told prosecutors about what he learned.

Mackin believed that Westlake had sex with Mackin’s girlfriend, according to court documents. The two men were sitting beside each other about 2 p.m. in separate vehicles at the Suburban Extended Stay Hotel : where Mackin’s girlfriend was staying : when Mackin shot Westlake, a probable cause affidavit alleges.

Westlake was shot multiple times and died in his gray Jeep, investigators said.

Mackin also faces charges of unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon and sentencing enhancements for being a habitual offender and using a gun to commit the alleged crime. 

mleblanc@jg.net

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