Second suspect appears in court

GREENFIELD — The second suspect accused in the murder of a McCordsville resident has pleaded not guilty to the charges he faces.

Damian Coleman, 39, of Indianapolis, is accused of robbing and killing Shannon Kitchens, 55, during a drug deal. Coleman was previously held in Marion County on an unrelated burglary charge; he was booked into the Hancock County Jail on Thursday evening and appeared in Hancock Circuit Court Friday.

Investigators said they believe Kitchens was shot on March 1 while trying to purchase cocaine from Coleman, according to court documents. Kitchens’ body was dumped along a rural road in McCordsville after he died and was found later that day.

Coleman faces two counts of murder; a Level 3 felony count of attempt to commit robbery while armed; a Level 3 felony count of conspiracy to commit robbery resulting in bodily injury; a Level 3 felony count of attempt to deal cocaine; and a Level 3 felony count of conspiracy to deal cocaine.

Coleman pleaded not guilty to those charges Friday and will be held without bond. Jail officials said Coleman likely will be transferred to the Marion County Jail in the next few days.

Coleman is the second suspect charged in the case; Shawn Hammons, 40, of Pendleton, a friend of Kitchens’, is accused of dumping Kitchens’ body in the 3300 block of West County Road 500N.

Text messages Coleman and Hammons exchanged suggest they planned to rob and steal a $14,000 check the victim recently cashed: “I want his money,” one text message read, while another Hammons sent asked if Coleman had a pistol, court records state.

Hammons told police he and Kitchens had smoked crack cocaine together March 1 — the day Kitchens died — and they contacted Coleman, an accused drug dealer, that day for more when their supply ran out.

Hammons and Kitchens arranged for Coleman to meet them with drugs at a Check ‘n Go in Lawrence, where Kitchens cashed the $14,000 check, court documents state.

Hammons told police after Kitchens had cashed the check, he returned to Hammons’ car and sat into the front passenger seat while Coleman climbed in the backseat, court documents state.

Hammons said Coleman pulled a gun, there was a scuffle, and Kitchens was shot, court documents state. Blood was later found in Hammons’ vehicle, police said.

Hammons was arrested March 2, and formally charged a week later. He pleaded not guilty and remains in the Hancock County Jail without bond.

Coleman was charged March 8. He is represented by Randy Sorrell for Fortville. Sorrell declined to comment on the case.

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Caitlin VanOverberghe is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3237 or cvanoverberghe@greenfieldreporter.com.