Ripley County Sheriff's Office
(Brookville, Ind.) - A change of venue has been granted for murder suspect David Ison.
The 46-year-old from Fayette County faces five counts of murder for the September 25 murders of the “Laurel Five” at two homes on Stipps Hill Road in western Franklin County.
Detectives said Ison shot and killed Roy Napier, 50; his ex-wife Angela Napier, 47; two of the couple’s children, Melissa, 23, and Jacob Napier, 18; and family friend Henry Smith, 43.
Franklin County Circuit Court Judge Steven Cox granted Ison’s request for a change of venue last week. Ison’s defense lawyer, Hubert Branstetter, said the media attention to the case has made it impossible for Ison to receive a fair trial in Franklin County.
The trial could be moved to another area county, or a jury could be brought in from elsewhere. That decision could be made by Cox sometime this week.
Franklin County Prosecutor Mel Wilhelm did not object to the change, according to the Richmond Palladium-Item. Wilhelm has not announced whether the state will seek the death penalty against Ison.
"It certainly qualifies. I'm still reading all of the file and waiting for all police and lab reports before I make a decision," Wilhelm told the newspaper.
The murders were discovered after Melissa Napier’s four-year-old daughter was found wandering on the road by neighbors.
Investigators allege Ison shot and beat the victims because Roy Napier had raised the price of prescription painkillers he was selling Ison.