A change of plea hearing for a local man has been delayed.
Daniel Joel Denny, 20, 1075 Robert Drive — B, is charged with murder for the June 1st stabbing death of one of his roommates, Eric Cavanaugh. Both the defendant and the victim were 19 at the time.
On Monday, Denny was brought from jail to the courtroom of Bartholomew Circuit Judge Kelly Benjamin. But moments before his hearing was scheduled to begin, a staff member told the judge that Denny’s court-appointed lawyer, Chris Monroe, was ill and unable to attend.
In a July interview, Benjamin said she asked everyone who works in her court to give her as much advanced warning as possible if they required a delay. That’s because COVID-19 has placed the court docket far behind schedule, and last minute cancellations are a hindrance in moving ahead with the backlog of cases, the judge said.
Although her immediate court calendar is full, Benjamin said she would make the time for Denny’s change of plea hearing. It’s now been rescheduled for 8:15 a.m. on Oct. 18.
While in the ambulance, the victim told officers he had no fight or argument with the defendant, according to court affidavits. Nevertheless, Cavanaugh said Denny began explaining to him “why he was going to hurt me” before the stabbing took place in their apartment, according to a probable cause affidavit. Cavanaugh died a short time after arriving at Columbus Regional Hospital.
In July, Monroe gave formal notice that he “intends to interpose an insanity defense” on behalf of his client. Invoking an insanity defense means the defense has the responsibility to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant suffers from a mental disease or defect that rendered the person unable to appreciate the wrongfulness of their conduct at the time of the offense, according to Indiana law.