Prosecutor: ‘Exceptional circumstances’ led to bond in murder case during May violence

The mother of a homicide victim said she feels angry and betrayed after Marion County prosecutors agreed to allow a bond for the man accused of killing her son.

“The way the prosecutor stood there in my face and played me was ridiculous,” Shavon Mathis told IndyStar in a phone interview.

“I don’t want him to get a bond.”

Tyler Newby, 30, was charged with murder in the May 31 shooting death of Mathis’ son Dorian Murrell, 18.

Tyler Newby, 29

Prosecutor Ryan Mears’ spokesperson Michael Leffler said Superior Judge Barbara Crawford on Monday set Newby’s bond at $250,000 “due to exceptional circumstances.”

He offered no further information on what those circumstances were. 

With the courts operating at a near stand-still due to the coronavirus pandemic, Leffler said the justice system has a backlog of about 140 defendants facing murder charges in Marion County, but Leffler said that was not the reason for the bond reduction.

Newby had been held without bond since his arrest shortly after the shooting.

Murrell’s mother said she believes Tyler Newby was offered bond because he is white while her son was Black. 

IndyStar asked the prosecutor’s spokesperson about other murder suspects being offered bond.

“While it is uncommon it certainly has happened,” Leffler said.

Newby appeared in court Monday for a bond hearing, which had been delayed because of the pandemic. 

During the hearing, Mathis said prosecutors and defense lawyers spent about an hour in the judge’s chambers before they returned to open court, where both sides agreed to set bond at $250,000.

Marion County Jail records show Newby posted 10% of the bond, $25,000, and was freed at 11:32 a.m. Tuesday.

The shooting that killed Murrell happened near North Pennsylvania and East Market streets about 2:20 a.m. May 31, a night marred by vandalism, looting and violence in the wake of local outrage and demonstrations over killings of Black men and women by police.

Newby’s attorney John Keiffner did not respond to IndyStar’s request for comment.

What court documents say

In court documents filed last month, Keiffner told the court that witness statements show Newby acted in self defense.

According to the affidavit, Newby and his friend told police that they were walking downtown after protests when they were approached by about 10 men.

Someone pushed Newby to the ground. Newby told police he pulled his gun and fired one shot at the man standing over him.

Everyone ran.

A short time later, a probable cause affidavit said Newby turned himself in to a Marion County Sheriff’s Office reserve deputy who was patrolling the area.

“I don’t know who I need to tell, but I just shot somebody,” Newby told the deputy, the affidavit said.

Dorian Murrell, 18.

Mathis said the prosecutor’s office never talked to her prior to Monday’s hearing. She was shocked, she said, when the deputy prosecutor told her the accused killer would be offered a bond in a murder case.

IndyStar has asked Mears’ office to respond to Mathis’ comments.

“I want to see my son to get justice,” Mathis said. “I want them (the prosecutor’s office) to treat my son like his life matters.”

“We knew when we filed the murder charge that this would be a challenging case,” the prosecutor’s spokesperson wrote in a later statement. “Nevertheless, we pursued the charge and, in doing so, made clear our intent to seek justice for Dorian Murrell.”

Contact IndyStar reporter Vic Ryckaert at 317-444-2701 or vic.ryckaert@indystar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @VicRyc.