By Stuart Hirsch
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
A Madison County jury found Malcolm Cobb guilty of murder and robbery late Friday following a four day trial in Madison Superior Court 4.
The jury deliberated for nearly 90 minutes before returning its unanimous verdict.
“I feel very good about the result and feel that it was appropriate,” said Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings. “I’m happy and pleased for the family and our community.”
The maximum prison term for the murder charge is 65 years; and 20 years for the robbery charge, Cummings said.
Cobb’s sentencing hearing has been set for March 10.
Cobb testified Friday that he felt his life was in imminent danger and acted in self-defense on the night he went to Spencer Smith’s duplex last January 29.
Cobb’s testimony came after Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings rested the state’s case against Cobb after the testimony of several Indiana State Police forensic experts concluded earlier in the day.
Cobb said Smith had visited his house several times earlier in the day seeking drugs, and had been drinking. Cobb later went over to Smith’s house.
Cobb testified that it was Smith who pulled a knife on him, which he knocked from the man’s hand. When Smith stood up and and went to his bedroom, Cobb said he knew the man was going after a gun and followed him.
During a struggle in the bedroom, Cobb said Smith was shot in the shoulder. When he tried to help Smith up, Cobb said the semi-automatic handgun went off two more times.
After those shots, Cobb said he tried to put Smith on his bed and “stood there while he gasped for air four or five times before he stopped.”
That evening, Cobb said, was the culmination of a series of events over several months during which there were confrontations with Smith. At one point there was a disagreement between Smith and Cobb’s parents because Smith was using their trash bins.
In that disagreement, Cobb said Smith threatened to kill Malcolm Cobbs Sr. Despite that threat, neither Cobb nor his parents ever called police to report the incident.
Those and other matters became more important during Cummings’ sharp cross-examination of Cobb, following his direct testimony.
If there was a pattern of confrontation, why weren’t the authorities ever contacted, Cummings asked.
Cobb replied that he tries to take care of his own problems and does not want to involve the police.
More importantly, when he went over to Smith’s house last January and was confronted by Smith threatening him with a knife, why didn’t he retreat from the home and call police? Why did he follow Smith into his bedroom, Cummings asked.
“There’s no doubt that if I didn’t take the gun away something was going to happen,” Cobb said, adding that he feared Smith would take the weapon to his parents’ house.
Cummings also wanted to know, in addition, why Cobb didn’t call police immediately after the shooting instead of waiting three hours.
In closing arguments, Cummings said the answer is clear. Cobb’s self-defense story was concocted in the hours after he allegedly shot Smith and took a safe and guns from the home.
Cobb’s account of what happened that night contradicted testimony earlier this week from Jonathan and Joshua Wood, who were apparently partying with Smith before Cobb arrived.
Jonathan Wood testified that after Cobb arrived at Smith’s house, there was an argument over whether Smith raped a woman. Jonathan Wood testified that Cobb held a knife to Smith’s neck.
When Joshua Wood told Cobb to stop, Cobb put the knife to his neck.
While Cobb was threatening Joshua Wood, Smith got up and went to his room. Jonathan Wood said his brother went outside and Cobb followed Smith into the bedroom. Jonathan Wood said he heard a commotion and stood in the doorway of the bedroom where Cobb was holding a handgun to Smith’s shoulder threatening to shoot if he didn’t open a safe.
Smith couldn’t get the safe open and Cobb fired, Wood said. When Smith stood up, Cobb “unloaded” the gun on him.
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