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By DAVE TAYLOR
Landmark News Service
Robert Louis Baldwin III was arraigned in Trimble County Circuit Court on Thursday, Jan. 16, on charges of murder and tampering with physical evidence. Baldwin is accused in the brutal killing of 24-year-old Angela Long, whose remains were discovered Nov. 27, in the mobile home residence of her father at 34 Kenlee Drive south of Bedford.
Through public defender Joanne Lynch, Baldwin entered pleas of not guilty to the two charges during Thursday’s hearing before Circuit Judge Karen Conrad. Lynch also requested on behalf of Baldwin that the Court reappoint the Department of Public Advocacy to represent the defendant. Lynch and attorney Melanie Lowe, both of LaGrange, will continue to represent Baldwin.
Baldwin has been transferred from the Carroll County Detention Center where he was initially incarcerated after his arrest in November to the Oldham County Jail. The transfer was due to convenience of access to counsel and safety concerns, according to a motion of transfer submitted by defense counsel.
The safety concern stems from the recent incarceration at the Carrollton facility of a former romantic interest of Ms. Long, according to law enforcement.
Judge Conrad, citing more efficient security at the Oldham County Court House, suggested that pretrial conferences be held at the LaGrange facility. “As you know they have holding cells and we don’t have to keep defendants in the open courtroom. It will keep the jailer from having to transport Mr. Baldwin,” Conrad said.
The first pretrial conference in LaGrange has been set for Thursday, March 6, at 9 a.m. The judge will ask during each court appearance whether the attorneys want to hold the next pretrial in Trimble or in Oldham.
Conrad told Baldwin that while pretrial conferences may take place in LaGrange, the trial itself “would have to take place in Trimble County unless there are reasons which your attorney will talk to you about for it to be changed because of a venue issue. As it stands right now a jury has to be selected from Trimble County citizens,” she said.
The judge encouraged both the public defenders and Commonwealth Attorney Courtney Baxter to “start talking at the next pretrial” about scheduling a date for the trial.
“It is my experience on cases that involve lab results—and you both know how long it can take to get that—it’s been my experience in the last several months that a trial date hurries along the lab evidence,” Conrad said. “I think they have to prioritize it because of all the cases that are out there. If you are not prepared I will always be reasonable if we have to continue it.
“Normally we wait until we get all the evidence back from the lab,” before setting a trial date, Conrad told the defendant. “It seems to take these forensic labs much longer if we don’t give them a trial date as a target. That doesn’t mean I’m going to set a trial date for two months down the road. It will be plenty of time for your attorneys to prepare and the Commonwealth to prepare. But I’d rather not keep this case dangling.”
The March 6 hearing date will give the public defenders time to request the discovery in the possession of the Commonwealth, Conrad said. “There will be more discovery that’s coming. This will by no means be complete but it will get it started.”