Prosecutor: Layton’s drug arrest should not affect ongoing criminal cases

(IMPD Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Former IMPD Detective Nikolas Layton made a brief appearance in court Thursday to answer to drug charges.

Layton, a ten-year veteran with IMPD and the son of Marion County Sheriff John Layton, resigned earlier this week after his arrest on preliminary charges of suspicion of dealing cocaine and cocaine possession, among others.

Two other people – 33-year old Christopher Reed and 41-year old Veronica Purdy – face similar charges.

While details of what transpired remain unclear, Layton, Reed and Purdy are alleged to have distributed drugs over a period of several days, police said. Authorities say the arrests were the result of a months-long investigation that began in November with members of IMPD’s Special Investigations Unit.

I-Team 8 has learned Layton’s arrest has prompted new concerns about how the drug charges levied against him might affect ongoing criminal cases in which he was a key witness.

The questions came up Thursday during a hearing on a hit-and-run case in which Layton served as the lead detective.

During an attorneys’ conference hearing Thursday, Commissioner Allan Reid asked both the prosecution and defense teams: “Are there concerns about (Layton)?”

Both Murphy’s attorney, Tom Hirschauer, and Deputy Prosecutor Matthew Bigler replied: “No, your honor.”

Layton was the lead detective in the case against Jayme Murphy, an Indianapolis woman charged with the leaving the scene of a fatal accident last July.

In that case, 27-year old Thomas Abell was struck and killed near the intersection of Kessler Boulevard and Crestview Avenue. Authorities say the driver, Jayme Murphy, struck Abell and left the scene of the accident.

Throughout several court proceedings and in motions before the court, Murphy’s attorneys have criticized Layton’s detective work in this case, accusing him of forum shopping for a judge that led him to improperly obtain Murphy’s cell phone records.

A judge agreed and in a written orders stated the cell records should remain sealed and later suppressed as evidence.

But on Thursday, the prosecution claimed a small victory after Commissioner Reid ruled that the prosecution could seek a third-party request from Verizon to obtain Murphy’s cell phone records.

Bigler declined to comment on if Layton’s criminal case would mire other cases.

So did Tom Hirschauer, Murphy’s attorney.

But in an email sent to I-Team 8, Peg McLeish, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office, wrote:

For each pending case in which Nikolas Layton is identified as a witness, there are other officers involved who are able to provide testimony. The cases can proceed without having him as a witness. We will disclose to the defense in each case that there is a pending criminal matter against Mr. Layton.

Layton’s attorney, Jennifer Lukemeyer, declined to comment when pressed about the charges against Layton or the questions surrounding how it might affect other cases.

For Abell’s brother and sister-in-law, who attended Thursday’s hearing, they say the process has been difficult.

“It’s a horrible, horrible thing that happened. Thomas would have been 28 on the 25th of this month. We are just trying to be there for each other,” Mike Abell, Thomas Abell’s brother told I-Team 8.

Thomas Abell’s sister-in-law, Kristen Lulich-Abell, said:  “It’s extraordinarily difficult. every step forward we get, we take two back. It’s tiring. It’s really tiring but we are trying at this point to remain very hopeful.”

When pressed if she thought Layton’s arrest might affect the case she said: “I don’t want to comment on that. We just found out about it. We are going to see how that plays out.”

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