News and Tribune

April 24, 2013

Floyd prosecutor to convene grand jury in Binford Park deaths

He says New Albany police are moving too slow; police chief disagrees

By GARY POPP
gary.popp@newsandtribune.com

NEW ALBANY — Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson said Wednesday that he will convene a grand jury following the deaths of Jaime Clutter, 35, and her two children, whose bodies were discovered in a creek in New Albany’s Binford Park on March 13.

Henderson said he was spurred to assemble an investigative grand jury because he has received little input on the case from the New Albany Police Department.

“The lack of information that has been forthcoming is unacceptable to me,” Henderson said. “This case, with the deaths of these three individuals, and the unanswered questions, obviously, it’s important for us to get to the bottom of it, and to get as much information as we can and to get some answers.”

He said some cases are more difficult than others for investigators, but intends to use the grand jury — made up of six civilians — in an “investigative mode” to get as much information pertaining to the case as possible.

“I have not received any information from the police department,” Henderson. “I have not received a case report from the police department in this case. At this point, after six weeks, we have to move forward, and we going to do that with the grand jury.”

The grand jury is expected to either return no charges, an indictment or several indictments when it reaches it conclusion.

“Again, a case of this magnitude, with two children and a mother, under the circumstances of their deaths, we need answers,” Henderson said. “As a prosecutor, I am going to exercise that avenue of convening a grand jury.”

He said he will use the power of the grand jury to subpoena investigators, witnesses, acquaintances of the deceased, the Floyd County Coroner and medical examiners, all to keep the case progressing. Henderson said he hopes the grand jury will result in providing comfort to those affected by the deaths.

“And, hopefully, have answers,” he said of the investigative nature of the grand jury. “Have answers for the families that are involved here and answers for the community.”

Henderson is expecting the grand jury to convene by the end of May.



NAPD RESPONSE

New Albany Police Chief Sherri Knight said, several hours after Henderson’s announcement, that she thinks Henderson is acting prematurely.

“This is still an ongoing investigation that we have not completed,” she said, adding that investigators are waiting to receive documentation from the Jefferson County Medical Examiner Office before turning the case over to the Office of the Floyd County Prosecutor.

When asked if a suspect has been identified, Knight chose not to respond, as the case is still under investigation. She said there are no new developments in the case and that the prosecutors have not made a direct request for police reports.

Henderson had said earlier that police reports are typically forthcoming from the department.

“It is not our policy to forward anything until [the case] is complete,” Knight said. “We want to make sure any information we forward to the prosecutor’s office is correct.”

She also said the case is expected to be completed by investigators “very soon.”