February 03, 2016Austin Scott, one of two men accused in the August 2013 beating death of a Greenville couple, was granted a guilty plea withdrawal Thursday in Harrison County Superior Court.
On Jan. 14, to the surprise of seemingly everyone, Scott asked to withdraw his guilty plea because he said he felt pressured to accept the plea agreement.
On Thursday, Scott continued to surprise by initially trying to withdraw his withdrawal request.
"Mr. Scott, you and I are going to have a conversation today," Special Judge Vickie Carmichael, of Clark County, said.
Carmichael asked Scott why he wanted to go against his motion to withdraw the guilty plea after he said he did so because he felt pressured.
Scott had to be told to speak up and stop tapping the table while he spoke.
"I've thought about what I've done," Scott said. "I owe it to the victim's family."
Scott said it was his decision to go back on his withdrawal request, but again said that he was pressured or felt pressured.
He said he wanted to stick with the guilty plea for the sake of the victim's family, but he did not want to do it for himself.
"Austin, that's not good enough for me," Carmichael said.
Carmichael said a defendant has to "freely enter into" an agreement with full knowledge of the consequences.
She told Scott he's giving her reason to believe it still isn't something he wants to do.
Carmichael also warned that the prosecutor is under no obligation to, and probably will not, make another offer.
The jury will make the decision, she said, with the death penalty as an option.
Scott was 18 at the time of the August 2013 murders of 70-year-old Gary Henderson and 57-year-old Asenath (Senie) Arnold.
Scott and Kevin (Drew) Schuler were accused of breaking into the couple's home along Walk Drive and stealing guns and prescription pills. Scott is accused of repeatedly stabbing Henderson to death; Schuler is accused of using a wooden stick with a metal end to beat Arnold to death.
Prosecutor J. Otto Schalk said it seemed like Scott keeps coming up with excuses to avoid the inevitable.
Schalk said there's always a level of pressure when involved in a case of this nature.
"There's a whole lot of people below us (in the Harrison County Jail) that don't want to take the plea deal, but they do," he said.
Carmichael said, with so much conflicting information from Scott, she will allow the guilty plea withdraw request.
Originally set for March 1, Scott will go to trial some time this spring in Allen County (Fort Wayne).
The news continued the roller coaster ride for the victim's family, Schalk said.
"They came in here today not knowing what to expect, and then there's evidence he wants to go forward with the sentencing and then they had that sigh of relief, 'OK, we can have some closure,' and then have that one more time taken away from them," he said.