Attempted murder trial, stemming from shooting spree at Muncie party, begins

MUNCIE, Ind. — A young Muncie man stands accused of shooting seven people at a party near the Ball State University campus more than two years ago, but is on trial this week for only one of those shootings.

Vashaun Letrell Harnett, now 22, is charged with attempted murder, a Level 1 felony carrying up to 40 years in prison, in the shooting — on May 18, 2019 — of Tyler Childers.

The 21-year-old Childers was one of three victims who suffered life-threatening wounds at the party in the 2400 block of West Euclid Avenue.

Another victim, 17-year-old Daymarr Kennedy, died at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital two days after being shot.

Chief Deputy Prosecutor Zach Craig on Tuesday told jurors in Hartnett's Delaware Circuit Court 2 trial that the defendant faces no charges stemming from Kennedy's fatal shooting, or the gunshot wounds suffered by five others at the party when Harnett fired an initial round of 11 shots from a 9mm handgun.

Officials responding to a house on West Euclid Avenue – on May 18, 2019 – after reports of seven people being shot.

Craig said Hartnett was acting in self-defense when he fired those shots after another man had pointed a handgun at both the defendant and his girlfriend.

However, Craig maintained that episode was over and that Childers was posing no danger to Harnett when he was shot a few minutes later while standing over one of the other victims.

“That situation was over,” Craig said. “That threat was extinguished.”

From 2019: Shooting near Ball State campus: Suspect arrested after 7 hurt at Muncie party

The chief deputy prosecutor said Harnett had no justification to again fire his gun “not once, not twice, but six times.”

Craig acknowledged shooting victim Childers might not show up to testify at this week's trial.

“That's just a reality of this case, ladies and gentlemen,” he told jurors.

Defense attorney William Summerfield told the jury his client was innocent, and that the prosecutor's argument was “somewhat ludicrous.”

He maintained Childers' shooting had been the result of the same circumstances that led to the other shootings.

More: Fatal shootings in Henry, Rush counties under investigation

“It was chaos, folks,” Summerfield said. “It was a gunfight.”

He noted his client had remained at the scene and placed a call to 911 dispatchers reporting the shootings.

He said Harnett had “nothing to hide” and “believed he was trying to help the police” until he realized he was being arrested.

Before testimony began on Tuesday morning, Summerfield and co-counsel Grey Harris tried but failed to persuade Judge Kimberly Dowling to dismiss the case against their client.

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Douglas Walker is a news reporter at The Star Press. Contact him at 765-213-5851 or at dwalker@muncie.gannett.com.

This article originally appeared on Muncie Star Press: Muncie man on trial for attempted murder in party shooting

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