Toddler's mother given immunity for evidence against boyfriend in murder case

Dylan Tate

ANDERSON — Madison County prosecutors are seeking life without parole against Dylan Tate, 28, who is accused of molestation and murder in the death of 18-month-old Harlan Haines in February 2018.

About 130 prospective people were summoned for jury selection in the case that begins Wednesday at 9 a.m., said Jim Hunter, Madison Circuit Court administrator. He said an average jury pool consists of about 65 people, but it is not uncommon to have 90 people summoned in murder cases.

Hunter said the larger jury pool is needed due to the complexity of the case involving the death of a child who was allegedly abused before his death.

On April 22, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Grey Chandler filed information for a life without parole sentence if Tate is convicted of murder.

The court filing states aggravating circumstances in the case that allow for a life without parole sentence include Tate murdered Harlan "by intentionally killing" the child while committing or attempting to commit child molesting or he tortured Harlan while the child was alive or the fact that Harlan was under the age of 12 at the time of his death.

The state has also filed a request to grant immunity to Harlan's mother, Jennifer Harris, for any evidence she provides against Tate, her boyfriend at the time. Harris is charged with Level 1 felony neglect of a dependent resulting in death.

If provided, the evidence cannot be used in any criminal proceeding against Harris unless the evidence is volunteered by her or is not responsive to a question by the prosecuting attorney or the attorney for the defendant, or if she commits perjury.

Harris is listed as a witness and co-defendant in the case.

Court records also list Jacob Wootton as a witness for the defense. Wootton is the stepfather of Ryder Stephen, a 2-year-old from Elwood who died after being found unconscious while in Wootton's care on Oct. 26.

Wootton is charged with Level 1 felony neglect of a dependent resulting in death and murder in the death of his stepson.

Tate's trial will take place in Madison Circuit Court 1, before Judge Angela Warner Sims.

Follow Traci L. Miller @_TraciMiller on Twitter, email her at traci.miller@heraldbulletin.com, or call her at 765-640-4805.