Hardy has initial hearing in officer's slaying

Thomas Hardy

Indianapolis - A judge has entered a not guilty plea for a 60-year-old man accused of fatally shooting an Indianapolis police officer during a traffic stop.

Thomas Hardy, 60, has a lengthy criminal record. He was mistakenly let out of jail and reportedly told a friend he would go back to prison if the officer found a gun on him.

Hardy told the judge he understood the murder charge and other felony charges he faces. He also asked for and was assigned a public defender because he has no money to hire an attorney.

In contrast to Monday, when Hardy was brought to court facing robbery charges, Friday he said nothing as he was escorted by sheriff's deputies. The 60-year-old faces a maximum of more than 100 years in prison if he's convicted of the murder and robbery charges.

A procedural "not guilty" plea was entered on his behalf and a trial date of March 21st was set. Hardy is accused of shooting Officer David Moore four times Sunday morning during a traffic stop. According to court documents, Hardy was scared of going back to prison and that's why he allegedly told a friend he opened fire.

"I've known him about 30 years now," said Kevin Murphy, Hardy's friend. Murphy doesn't believe Hardy is capable of doing what he's accused of "unless he hit the breaking point or something. I don't see him doing this in his right state of mind, no."

"I'm here with my command staff here. It's just important to see this process, to hear the charges because we have heavy hearts and we're interested," said IMPD Chief Paul Ciesielski.

In addition to the command staff, about 20 other police officers, including homicide detectives who put the case against Hardy together, were in the courtroom.

Hardy was ordered not to have contact with 13 potential witnesses in the case, including some of this relatives. Since this is a murder case, he is being held without bond.

Prosecutors said they expect to decide within about a month whether to seek the death penalty.