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Defendants request July 4 Lake Monroe battery case be moved to another county

A special judge and special prosecutor have already been assigned to the case.
Credit: Monroe County Correctional Facility
Jerry Cox and Sean Purdy

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — The attorneys for two men facing criminal charges in a July 4 incident at Lake Monroe are requesting the case be tried in another county. Attorneys for Sean Purdy and Jerry Cox II filed the motion for change of venue late last month.

The motion filed on behalf of Purdy argues he cannot receive a fair trial in Monroe County because of:

  1. Public hostility and bias against him
  2. Public outrage over the offenses charged
  3. Prejudicial news reports and editorials excoriating Purdy
  4. Speculative opinions as to Purdy’s personality and character
  5. Public disclosures of inadmissible evidence.

A special judge and special prosecutor have already been assigned to the case.

Purdy is charged with felony criminal confinement, battery resulting in moderate bodily injury and intimidation. Cox is charged with felony criminal confinement and battery resulting in moderate bodily injury, as well as two misdemeanors.

The two men were charged in an assault on Vauhxx Booker, a Black man. Booker said someone threatened to “get a noose” during the assault. The defendants claim Booker and his friends were trespassing when they gathered at the southern Indiana lake over the July Fourth weekend.

Booker, a civil rights activist and member of the Monroe County Human Rights Commission, said he called 911 after the men assaulted him and pinned him to a tree at Lake Monroe just south of Bloomington.

According to court documents, Booker ended up with a mild concussion and bald spots on his scalp, along with a scratch on his cheek and an abrasion on his knee.

The attorneys for Purdy and his girlfriend said Booker was the instigator and threatened to use his position in the community to ruin their clients. The attorneys said Booker got into the face of Purdy's girlfriend and when Purdy intervened, Booker hit him three times. The attorneys also said their clients did not say anything about white power or lynching.  

After a Monroe County judge recused herself from the case, the Indiana Supreme Court appointed Johnson County Judge Lance Hamner as a special judge Aug. 11.

Both sides requested a special prosecutor, which Judge Hamner granted on Aug. 21. Former Hamilton County prosecutor Sonia Leerkamp will now represent the state.