By Jack Molitor
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
Adam Layne was found not guilty of murder in the stabbing death of a 23-year-old Anderson man.
Layne, 27, gasped and began to cry Thursday as Judge David Happe read the jury's verdict to a charge of murder that has kept Layne incarcerated for more than eight months. Layne's family, many sobbing uncontrollably before the jury even entered Court 4 at the Madison County Government Center, joined him in a relieved and exuberant reaction.
On Dec. 9, 2012, Layne stabbed Willie Rumph, 23, of Anderson, in self-defense during an argument over money at Layne’s home in the 1600 block of Lincoln Street. Rumph had forced his way into the home that evening and demanded drug money owed him by a member of Layne's family.
After a heated discourse between Rumph, Layne and his ex-fiance Sara Smith, Layne stabbed Rumph with a kitchen knife on the house's porch area. Layne and Smith, who was pregnant with Layne's child, were watching TV when they heard Rumph rap on a window. Layne and defense attorney Jimmy McDole maintained for months that Layne acted in self-defense to protect himself and his family.
A jury of six men and six women agreed after sitting through six days of testimony from witnesses and experts. It took them about two and a half hours to come to a conclusion.
During post-trial conferences, several jurors said they might have convicted Layne of a lesser charge, but following the principle of reasonable doubt, couldn't justify a charge of murder.
"This guy was put in a bad situation," said one juror. "I'm not sure any of us wouldn't have done the same."
Layne was not available for immediate comment due to police procedures, but family members said they were euphoric after hearing the verdict.
"It's been hell. Adam has been portrayed as a monster throughout this process, but we know he isn't," said one family member.
Another added, "The law hasn't shown to be on Adam's side in the past. We're happy it was this time."
On the other side, a family already grieving was left without a resolution. Rumph's family left the courtroom quietly, but one family member had to be carried onto an elevator, screaming in anguish.
According to reports from that night, Rumph, covered in blood, made his way back to his vehicle and drove himself a few blocks to St. Vincent Anderson Regional Hospital where he was found by an off-duty police officer. He died a few hours later in surgery, but was able to provide doctors and police information about the attack.
Prosecutors said Rumph actually didn’t know Layne, but he was able to describe being stabbed by a man with distinctive facial tattoos like the ones sported by Layne. McDole, who was defending his second murder trial and first with a jury, said the trial was very difficult with so many emotions running high on both sides.
"I've talked to Adam a lot, and I can tell you he's really sorry about that, and he's cried about it a lot. He didn't want to hurt anybody," McDole said. "Rumph was definitely threatening. He forced his way into Adam's home, and Adam had a right to defend himself. And he had a right to use deadly force."
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