Evansville, Ind. — A jury pool of 99 names called from across southern Indiana yielded 12 jurors and three alternates who have been impaneled to hear the case of the United States vs Richard Grundy III and four co-defendants in a drug trafficking and money laundering case that could result in a life sentence for the alleged Indianapolis kingpin if he’s found guilty.
Grundy’s first trial in Indianapolis earlier this month was ruled a mistrial after a list of confidential juror names was found in his Marion County Jail cell.
Now that the case has been moved to the Winfield K. Denton Federal Courthouse in Evansville, Grundy and his co-defendants are awakened before dawn in their federal cells in a Henderson, Kentucky, jail to be transported across the Ohio River to stand trial.
Relocation of the trial to southern Indiana means Grundy’s fate will be decided 170 miles away from his home base of operation, where authorities have claimed witnesses have been murdered and intimidated while the accused gang leader spent years building up and running a ruthless narcotics operation and frequently took to social media to inveigh against informants who would cooperate with law enforcement.
In November of 2017, 26 people from Indianapolis to Phoenix Arizona were rounded up in Operation Electric Avenue in what federal agents charge was a ring that sent tens of thousands of dollars from central Indiana to the desert southwest for the purchase of methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and marijuana.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Brad Blackington told potential jurors that his case will depend on wiretaps, text messages and eyewitness accounts of multiple drug deals in Indianapolis during the late summer and early fall two years ago.
Blackington said several witnesses will be admitted drug dealers and, “They’re gonna testify for me.” Many will have previous criminal convictions.
Attorney Ted Minch, who is representing all five co-defendants, asked the potential jurors, “Would you want to know what their deal was?” that convinced the informants to testify.
Blackington indicated that law enforcement agents would lead off his witness list after opening statements Tuesday morning, followed by other witnesses who would link Grundy and the co-defendants to the conspiracy during testimony in the late afternoon and on Wednesday.
Jurors were told the trial will wrap up no later than August 22.
When questioned by Blackington during jury selection, one man said, “Indianapolis or Evansville, I just don’t care about those guys cuz it doesn’t affect my house and my kids.”
Another possible juror doubted she could render guilty verdicts because, “A lot of systems are broken in our country, and I feel like that’s in this system.”
Neither person was picked for the jury.
Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of Indiana, reminded the jurors that they were not sitting in judgement of the defendants but rather the U.S. Attorney’s presentation of the evidence of the conspiracy and financial transactions.
Minch told the jurors that, “not all defendants are equally guilty,” and in a hearing last week, Grundy argued that he was being charged for crimes committed by others.
In the courtroom, Grundy appeared in a dark blue suit wearing an open collar white shirt at the first defense table, flanked by attorneys.
He remained attentive during the jury selection, frequently smiling and speaking with defense counsel, even whistling softly as he was led into the courtroom with his hands cuffed behind his back.
While one co-defendant rested his head on a table and seemingly ignored the Court’s instructions to the jury, Judge Magnus-Stinson warned the panel that the sheer number of charges does not necessarily denote guilt and advised the jurors to take notes throughout the trial.
She re-emphasized the need for the jury to steadfastly avoid media accounts of the case as, “It’s taken a lot of work for us to be here today,” and she did not want to risk another mistrial.
Grundy is being tried alongside James O. Beasley, Derek Atwater, Ezell Neville and Undrae Moseby, the last remaining defendants from Operation Electric Avenue, who did not take plea agreements.
Grundy has been thoroughly investigated by detectives in Indianapolis for six years for his alleged roles in narcotics trafficking and the unsolved drug-related killings of some two dozen people.
Despite serving some two years in jail while awaiting trial, almost all the most serious charges against Grundy have been dropped due to tainted evidence and reluctant or unreliable witnesses, with a single conviction on a felony marijuana charge ,which resulted in time served and non-reporting probation.
It was few weeks later, in late July of 2017, that Grundy survived an assassination attempt as he was wounded three times while attending a graveside funeral service for a slain cousin at a northeast side cemetery.
Investigators claim that while he was recovering from those wounds, Grundy launched the conspiracy that landed him federal court in Evansville this week.