The three men accused of murdering Charles Monroe May 5 have pleaded not guilty, and the victim’s family says it will not be satisfied if the case ends with a plea agreement.
Joshua Hammond, 31, and David Bruce II, 44, both of Owen County, and James Simons, 35, of Grant County, were charged with murder, assault, robbery and tampering with physical evidence after Monroe was found dead on the side of Interstate 64 on May 6.
Monroe, 30, was beaten and strangled to death, and his assailants were after money and drugs, Commonwealth’s Attorney Larry Cleveland said after they were indicted last week. The three men planned to rob him after buying prescription drugs from him in the Walmart parking lot on Leonardwood Drive on May 5, Cleveland said.
Monroe’s brother, Larry Monroe, said the family is “hanging in there” and is ready for answers from the court.
“We’re just being together as a family, staying strong and waiting until we get our day in court for them cowards ...” Larry Monroe said after court. “No, we don’t want a plea bargain, because my brother’s life wasn’t bargained for at all.”
The men were brought into Franklin Circuit Court Thursday morning in jail-issued orange jump suits, protective vests and leg and arm shackles. The court appointed three attorneys – Joanne Lynch, Guthrie True and Casey Holland – through the Department of Public Advocacy to represent each suspect. The men stood silently with their defense attorneys as each was arraigned.
Heightened courtroom security included three officers from Franklin County Regional Jail and several members from the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office for their appearance. Each patron was scanned at the front door of the Franklin County Temporary Courthouse and again before entering the courtroom.
More than a dozen of Monroe’s family members – most wearing white T-shirts with “In Memory of Charles Roy Monroe” printed on the back – sat in the courtroom during the morning arraignments.
Charles Monroe’s brother, Herbert Monroe, made the shirts “to support Charlie.”
The family plans to wear the shirts on court dates, Charles Monroe’s birthday, and May 5 – when he was murdered.
“There are no feelings to describe it – we want some answers, and that’s why we’re all here,” Larry Monroe said outside the courthouse. “Words don’t describe what they’ve done to our family.”
Hammond is the son of Owen County Sheriff Zemer Hammond, and Bruce is the son of former Owen County jailer David Bruce and the brother of current jailer Cindy Bruce Walker.
They are being held at Franklin County Regional Jail on $500,000 bonds. Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd said a trial date will be set later.