Judge's Denial of Warrant Has 'Most Tragic Result Possible'

Police believe estranged husband killed wife, then himself
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 19, 2016 3:51 PM CDT
Updated Oct 19, 2016 4:11 PM CDT
Judge's Denial of Warrant Has 'Most Tragic Result Possible'
Stock image.   (Getty Images)

Anthony Russell allegedly violated a no-contact order and was due to appear in court in Indiana on a felony charge of stalking his estranged wife, Laura. Laura, 44, had reported to police multiple instances of finding Anthony, 51, waiting for her and following her, CBS reports. Prosecutors requested that a warrant be issued for his arrest, but on Oct. 6 Judge Michael Hensley declined to do so, choosing instead to simply issue a summons for Anthony Russell to appear in court days later, after a long holiday weekend. The day after that ruling, authorities found Anthony Russell dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound; when they went to the Russell home to inform Laura, they found her dead of multiple stab wounds. They believe Anthony killed her and then himself. On Monday, Hensley issued a statement acknowledging that "the most tragic result possible" came of his ruling, and explained why he made it, the Madison Courier reports.

"My role is not to simply grant all warrants without review," Hensley said. "Certain legal standards must be met before I can issue a warrant. The reason I did not issue a warrant in this case is that there was not sufficient probable cause. Without probable cause I do not have the power to issue a warrant. I made what I thought to be the correct legal decision." He added that he fully understands the risks involved in domestic abuse situations, but still found "the fact that an elementary school teacher killed his wife and then himself" difficult to believe. In the future, he says, he will issue an order for a hearing on the same day as the warrant request if he can't find probable cause to grant the warrant request. "I am hopeful the new procedure prevents a similar tragedy in the future," he writes. "I feel horrible about her death and realize the regret I express and information I provide in this statement do not bring her back." (More domestic violence stories.)

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