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State says key witness in Underwood murder case may be on the run

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) — A key witness is nowhere to be found, and it could trigger a delay in a big murder trial about to begin.

It’s a development that is unsettling to the victim’s family for another reason–it could force authorities, for the time being, to set Henry Underwood free.

25-year old Henry Underwood faces charges of murder, felony murder, and robbery causing serious bodily injury.

He is scheduled to stand trial for the 2017 slaying of popular North Side High School assistant football coach Terrance Miles on Tuesday, but now it’s not clear if that will happen, or if Underwood will even be in custody by then.

“It’s very scary, that just threw me for a whole 360,” said Terrance Miles’ cousin Tanesha Miles.

She was in court Friday morning, when the prosecutor handling Underwood’s case told Judge Fran Gull that a woman the state is counting on to help win a conviction failed to show up for depositions two times this week.

If she is on the run, and isn’t available for the trial, it could be a deal breaker.

“In their eyes, she is necessary for them to go forward,” said defense attorney Bill Lebrato, referring to prosecutors in the case.

READ MORE: Henry Underwood charged with the murder of Terrance Miles

The witness in question has been declared in contempt of court, and an arrest warrant has been issued.

If she hasn’t been located by early next week, the state may seek a delay, and Underwood might well be set free.

He is entitled to a trial within six months of his arrest, and a continuance would shove the trial past such a deadline.

Is the witness on the run, fearing retaliation if she testifies?

“She has a right to be scared, but for me, I know my cousin was scared too when he took out his trash and these two men approached him for no reason. And killed my cousin. I’ve got faith that it’s going to work out. (Underwood) is not going to get away, even if they let him out, he’s going to be back,” Tanesha Miles said.

Underwood previously called on the judge to dismiss charges against him, saying the other suspect in the case, Jaevin Bowie, lied to detectives.

READ MORE: Suspect in high-profile murder makes hand-written motion claiming innocence, blames key witness

Bowie pleaded guilty last summer to lesser charges and has agreed to testify against his co-defendant.

A hearing is set for Monday afternoon, one day before jury selection in Underwood’s trial.

It could provide answers about where the case goes from here.

Jeff Neumeyer

Jeff Neumeyer is a reporter for WPTA.

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