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Homicide suspect considers plea deal

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An Elizabethtown man accused of reckless homicide in the death of a fellow bar patron last April is in the midst of plea negotiations with the Bartholomew County prosecutor’s office.

Witnesses say Jacob A. Tolbert, 25, backed a pickup over Thomas L. “Tommy” Brazzell, 27, a personal trainer at a Seymour health club, as the man lay prone on the pavement behind the vehicle. The incident occurred April 28 in the parking lot of what was then known as Caddies Pub in the 2700 block of Central Avenue.

The ongoing talks — acknowledged Friday in Bartholomew Circuit Court — could lead to amended charges within the next 30 days that resolve Tolbert’s case without going to trial, officials said.

That revelation led Judge Stephen Heimann to postpone Tolbert’s scheduled trial during a court hearing Friday morning.

The trial, which was projected to take up to 11 days, had been scheduled to begin Feb. 4, but the judge has now pushed it back to June 10.

Defense attorney Eric Hayes of Columbus filed the legal motion seeking the delay. Both Mike DeArmitt of the county prosecutor’s office and Hayes acknowledged that a potential plea deal is in the works when quizzed by Heimann about the status of the case. DeArmitt told Heimann a decision on any agreement likely would be made within the next month.

If a deal is struck, it would likely be revealed no later than a change-of-plea hearing set for 10:45 a.m. May 23.

Tolbert has been charged with reckless homicide, a Class C felony; failure to stop after an accident resulting in death, a Class C felony; and possession of marijuana, a Class A misdemeanor.

Class C felonies are punishable by two to eight years in prison under Indiana law. Class A misdemeanors carry sentences up to one year behind bars.

Hayes has said in previous court filings Tolbert could argue self-defense in connection with the incident.

In the past, Hayes said his client and a companion had been hit multiple times inside Caddies Pub just before the fatal accident.

A court affidavit filed by city police indicates that Brazzell ran after Tolbert’s pickup truck and grabbed the passenger side of the vehicle. The document also says that Tolbert began to pick up speed at that point and drove toward semitrailers parked outside the closed Dolly Madison plant next to Caddies.

Brazzell was knocked off the vehicle, and when Tolbert backed up he ran over Brazzell, who had fallen to the ground, the police report said.

In the probable-cause affidavit, Tolbert said he had consumed up to seven beers before the incident and had taken an anxiety medication known to amplify the effects of alcohol. On Friday, DeArmitt said the prosecutor’s office is reviewing toxicology results in connection with plea negotiations.

Tolbert, who is out of jail, appeared in court Friday in street clothes.

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