Bond reduced for 1 of 4 in kidnap, beating case

A judge has agreed to reduce the bond for Emily Franklin, one of four young adults charged in the kidnapping and severe assault of a Columbus man.

Franklin, who turned 18 on June 9, requested a reduction of her bond that was set at $750,000 surety or $75,000 cash. County prosecutor Lindsey Holden-Kay told Bartholomew Superior Court 1 Judge James Worton she felt that reducing the bond to no lower than $150,000 surety or $15,000 cash would be appropriate in Franklin’s case. After a few days of consideration, Worton agreed with Holden-Kay’s recommendation and lowered Franklin’s bond.

But if Franklin is released on bond, she will have to agree to a number of pre-trial conditions to be determined by Bartholomew County Court Services, the judge said. Worton set his own conditions, ordering that Franklin could not have any type of contact with the victim or her co-defendants. That would include Ashton Fields, 18, of 762 Clifty Drive, Columbus, with whom Franklin had been living for about a month before her arrest.

Fields and Franklin, as well as Charles Breedlove, 18, of 2017 14th St., Columbus, and Zablin “Jai” Woodruff, of 238 N. Hughes St., Columbus, are charged with Level 2 felony robbery resulting in serious bodily injury and Level 3 felony counts of kidnapping with serious bodily injury, criminal confinement resulting in serious bodily injury, and aggravated battery causing serious permanent disfigurement.

Franklin is accused of driving the victim to a Bonnell Road barn on June 2 under the false pretense of taking him to get something to eat. Investigators said Breedlove, Fields and Woodruff were wearing masks while the victim was dragged out of the vehicle, punched in the face, pistol-whipped and beaten with a stick, a probable cause affidavit states.

The victim saw a pistol aimed at him while being told he was about to die, received multiple cuts and had liquid poured on him that burned his eyes and wounds, according to the court document. It also states the victim’s sweatshirt, shoes and cellphone were taken from him before his assailants abandoned him.

The victim eventually found help after walking to the nearby home of an Indiana State Police trooper, investigators stated.

On Tuesday, Woodruff was the only defendant who refused to have his initial hearing conducted through video conferencing. Worton has set his hearing for 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, July 5.

Court officials said Woodruff’s attorney, Charles Baker of Indianapolis, said he also will request a bond reduction.

But the probable cause affidavit alleges Woodruff committed some of the most violent acts against the victim, while Franklin is only mentioned in the affidavit as driving the victim to the barn. Holden-Kay expressed concern about the safety of the victim if the male suspects are released from jail.

The question of bond reduction for Franklin rested largely on whether she is considered a threat to others. While her grandmother was on the witness stand Wednesday, Janet Singer said that when Franklin first called her from jail, she proclaimed that “she either loved Ashton or wanted Ashton.”

But Singer also said her granddaughter has filed for a protective order in Bartholomew County against Fields after he allegedly became physically abusive and inflicted visible wounds on her. The grandmother told the judge that forced Franklin to do some soul-searching while in jail.

When Franklin was asked how she felt about Fields now, she blamed him for getting her involved in the assault.

“I’m thinking that if he loved me, he would not have put me in this situation,” Franklin said. “He’s not the person I thought I knew. I want to stay away from him.”

Neither Holden-Kay nor defense attorney Mark Dove asked for additional details regarding the “situation” that might provide an explanation or motive for the attack. So far, no parties in the case have been willing to discuss a possible motive.

Franklin said if she bonds out and is put into her grandparent’s custody in Deputy, she plans to take out another no-contact order against Fields in Jefferson County.

Singer testified that her granddaughter, who participated in gymnastics and cheerleading before graduating from high school, had never shown violent tendencies in her past.

Although the grandparents own their house, the residence sits on leased land, Singer said. Under those conditions, Holden-Kay said she’s not sure if Indiana law would allow the house to be used as collateral to raise the money for the bond.

Singer said all the money she and her husband, David, had saved has been used to hired her granddaughter’s attorney.