COSTON PLEADS ‘NOT GUILTY’ TO ALL CHARGES
WHITE CO.—To a packed courtroom largely comprised once again of his supporters, Danny K. Coston today entered pleas of “not guilty” to all nine of the state’s charges against him, among them five counts of First Degree Murder, in the August 26 shooting deaths of Jacob Wheeler, 22, and Jessica Evans, 17, in the Centerville area of White County.
Coston was not sporting the day-glo orange jail outfit he’d been seen in the past two court appearances, Sept. 4 and Sept. 12. Instead, today, his attorney apparently convinced the judge in the case, Tom Sutton, to allow Coston to attend his arraignment (formal reading of charges) in street clothes.
So, clad in ill-fitting khaki pants and a dark green long-sleeved shirt, Coston, looking a little rough and keeping his head down, appeared in court, flanked by his attorneys, Jerry Crisel and Rhonda Blades, to hear the formal arraignment of the charges against him.
Sutton read over the charges as they’d been filed, and explained again, as he had during the Sept. 4 first advisement of charges, what the possible penalties were.
After each charge (or set of charges, as the five First Degree Murder counts and two Aggravated Battery with a Weapon counts), Sutton asked if Coston understood the charges as they were read to him, and then asked if he understood the possible penalties.
After each question, Coston answered with a clear but subdued “Yes sir.”
The possible penalties are heavy.
Coston faces anywhere from 20 to 60 years in DOC on each murder charge. There is the possibility of enhanced sentencing of 15 years if convicted and the jury finds he was armed when he committed one of the crimes; 20 years if convicted and the jury finds that he discharged that weapon when he committed one of the crimes; and 25 to life if convicted and the jury finds that he discharged the weapon and in so doing, that discharge was the proximate cause of death in one of the crimes.
I say “one of the crimes” because this could apply individually to each count for which he might be convicted.
On the Aggravated Criminal Sexual Assault charge, the penalty is six to 30 years in DOC with an extended sentence for utilizing the weapon in the commission of the crime: 25 years to life.
On the Aggravated Battery with a Firearm counts and Concealment of Homicidal Death, the sentencing ranges are anywhere from two years DOC to ten years with enhanced sentences. Those are the only two that are probationable.
Upon explaining other mandatory sentences to Coston, such as submission of samples for the state’s DNA database and mandatory HIV and other testing, and registration on the state’s sex offender rolls, Sutton asked how Coston was going to plead.
His court appointed attorney Jerry Crisel stood and said “Your honor, my client pleads ‘not guilty’ on all counts.”
There was a bit of a murmur in the room when this took place, but it was difficult to tell from where it was emanating. Six law enforcement officers ringed the room, a lower number than in recent hearings, but still quite the presence.
Tentative court settings were made, with cautions from both the prosecutor, T. Scott Webb, and defense that these would likely not be reached and would be continued, as discovery was continuing to be made in the case. However, the tentative jury trial date under speedy trial demand is November 13 at 9 a.m. We’ll see how long it takes to continue that date.
Upon Coston’s departure, his supporters remained seated, but did speak aloud reassuring words, such as “Love you, Danny” from one gentleman and “Keep your head up bub” from one of the ladies.
Also present upon having posted bond Monday night ($2,000 cash) was Candice Brown, Coston’s pregnant girlfriend, who was at work in Richland County (not Wabash as we were previously told) when officials served the warrant for her arrest on a charge of Obstruction of Justice, for allegedly lying to police during Coston’s ‘confession’ interviews Friday, August 31.
She didn’t seem too happy to see us:
We’ll have more on her situation, and any follow-ups, as the day and week progress. Keep checking back…and to read the current, full story of the horrific week of August 25-31, including exclusive interviews and photos, click on our e-edition link to get a membership; as well, the new issue is continuing to be delivered today, and those deliveries will be complete by this afternoon. Hit our ‘about us’ page to see where you can pick up your copy of Disclosure, and hurry…while we did get a reprint, this one’s selling out all over, and we don’t want you to miss out on a thing.
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