GREENFIELD — Text messages show two men conspired to rob and kill the Hancock County resident whose body was dumped on the side of a rural road in McCordsville last week, court documents state.
Shawn Hammons, 40, of Pendleton, admitted to police that he was with the victim, Shannon Kitchens, 55, of McCordsville, when Kitchens was shot and killed March 1; but Hammons said another suspect, an Indianapolis drug dealer, was the one who pulled the trigger.
Kitchens was killed while trying to purchase crack cocaine, Hammons told investigators.
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Prosecutors filed charges against Hammons on Monday in Hancock Circuit Court and said they are working to finalize their case against a second suspect, Damian Coleman of Indianapolis, who is being held in the Marion County Jail on an unrelated burglary charge.
Hammons faces the following: two counts of murder; a Level 3 felony count of robbery while armed with a deadly weapon; a Level 3 felony count of conspiracy to commit robbery while armed with a deadly weapon; a Level 3 felony count of attempt to deal narcotic drugs; a Level 3 felony count of conspiracy to commit dealing cocaine; a Level 6 felony county of altering the scene of a death; and a Class A misdemeanor charge of failure to report a dead body.
Hammons was arrested Wednesday morning hours after Kitchens’ body was found in 3300 block of West County Road 500N, but formal charging was delayed while police continued their investigation.
Hammons pleaded not guilty Monday to each of the charges, and a judge ordered him to remain in the Hancock County Jail without bond.
Police still are working to finalize evidence against Coleman; prosecutors say they plan to file charges against him in the coming week.
Shortly before Kitchens was killed, Hammons sent Coleman a text that police said suggests robbery was the motive for the murder: “I want his money” one text message read, while another asked if Coleman had a pistol, court records state.
Hammons admitted to police he knew Kitchens had recently received a check for more than $14,000; Kitchens had that money with him when he was killed.
Hammons told police he and Kitchens had smoked crack cocaine together on March 1, and they contacted Coleman that day for more when their supply ran out.
Kitchens’ family told police he left his home in McCordsville around 3 p.m. that day with Hammons, court documents state. Hammons admitted he drove Kitchens to a Check ‘n’ Go in Lawrence so Kitchens could cash a $14,000 check. The pair arranged for Coleman to meet them at the Check ‘n’ Go with drugs, court documents state.
Kitchens cashed the check, climbed into the front passenger seat of Hammons’ car with Coleman in the backseat, court documents state.
Coleman pulled a gun, there was a scuffle, and Kitchens was shot, Hammons told police.
Coleman jumped from the car, and Hammons sped away from the Check ‘n’ Go with Kitchens in the front seat beside him, he told police.
Kitchens was dead before they left the parking lot, Hammons said, according to court records.
After his arrest, Hammons admitted he took some of the money but didn’t kill his friend.
“I know how this looks,” he told investigators, according to court records.
Hammons told police he began to panic: he was high, and his friend was dead, he said, so he drove to Hancock County and dumped Kitchens’ body, court documents state.
Hammons told police he found the magazine of a gun inside his car and threw it, along with Kitchens’ cellphone, out the window, court documents state.
Just after 5:30 p.m. on March 1, a woman called 911 saying she’d spotted a man’s body lying on the side of the road in 3300 block of West County Road 500N. Kitchens’ eyes were still open, the woman told emergency dispatchers, but he was not breathing, court documents state.
Another witness saw a black sport-utility vehicle, believed to be Hammons’ car, driving in the area, court records state. A vehicle matching that description was found parked in a driveway of a home in the 700 block of Alden Drive in Fortville, and fresh blood was found inside, court documents state.
One of Hammons’ friends, who lived at the house, told police Hammons said “something bad had happened, … someone died in his car,” court documents state. Another friend drove Hammons to his girlfriend’s home in Anderson, where police caught up to him early the next morning.
Hammons faces 101 years if convicted of all counts, Hancock County Prosecutor Brent Eaton said.