FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — The trial of a man accused of killing an assistant high school football coach in 2017 ended with a jury finding him not guilty.
The case went to the jury around 12:30 Thursday afternoon with the verdict coming just after 6:15 p.m. WANE 15’s Britt Salay says Henry Underwood, who was charged with murder, felony murder and attempted robbery in the shooting death of Terrance Miles, showed no emotion during the reading of the verdict on the outside, though his family was emotional. He was acquitted of all three counts, partially due to a key witness being described as “not very good,” changing his story multiple times during the trial.
“[Bowie] had lied to officers throughout this investigation,” said William Lebrato, a member of Underwood’s defense team. “He was the first person to touch the murder weapon before the shooting and he was the first person to touch the murder weapon after the shooting, and he intentionally wiped the murder weapon down.”
At the announcement of the verdict, raw emotion was on display. Yelling, screaming, crying, hugging, and pulling and throwing courtyard flowers, all joined by a police presence outside the court as friends and family of Miles saw the defense. Only three members of Miles’ family were allowed inside the courtroom. The rest were asked to wait outside for the verdict.
According to Lebrato, it is common for emotions to run high when it comes to murders like that of Miles, and that he was not surprised how affected people were by the new but he added that the jury had spoken.
“Mr. Miles was from all accounts a great man, a community activist and so I understand why people are angry but the jury based their decision on the evidence presented to them,” said Lebrato.
As WANE 15’s Angelica Robinson previously reported, Miles was gunned down around 12:15 a.m. in mid-May near a parking lot entrance to East Central Towers apartments, along East Washington Boulevard. He was an active youth mentor and coach at North Side High School.
On Wednesday morning the jury heard nearly two hours of testimony from a key witness, Jaevin Bowie. Bowie admitted to being an accomplice in the 2017 killing, and testified that he saw Underwood pull the trigger.
Bowie said he turned himself in to police days after the shooting when he saw on the news that he was named a person of interest. He testified that he did not come forward right away because he was afraid and did not want to be labeled a snitch.
Bowie testified that he and Underwood were drinking with friends that night at East Central Tower Apartments. Later that night, the two decided to rummage through unlocked cars in the lot looking for items to steal.
Bowie said he made eye contact with Miles as he walked to the dumpster to take out the trash. Miles use to mentor Bowie at the Boys and Girls Club, he said.
Bowie told the jury that he wanted to leave but he saw Underwood approach Miles. According to his testimony, he heard Miles say, “I don’t have any money.”
Then shots were fired.
He also testified that Underwood and a couple of others at the apartment that night told him to get rid of the guns. He threw them down a trash chute at the apartment building.
Bowie was interviewed by police days after the shooting. He admitted that he did not tell police everything that he knew out of fear. His story changed multiple times. Following the police interrogation he went to Mississippi after telling a Fort Wayne Police detective that he feared for his life.
During Bowie’s testimony Underwood yelled, “he killed Mr. Miles and he knows it!”
The defense pointed out that Bowie changed his story multiple times since the initial police interview. The attorney also pointed out that Bowie was testifying against Underwood as part of a plea deal and would receive a significantly shorter sentence as a result.
The jury also heard testimony from a lead detective on the case and saw surveillance video that showed the moments leading up to the fatal shooting.
DAY ONE OF TRIAL
The jury heard opening statements from the prosecution and defense, Tuesday afternoon.
The prosecuting attorney described Miles as a beloved member of the community, a high school coach and a volunteer. He went on to say that Underwood took his life in “a senseless and opportunistic” attempt at a robbery. Moments before the shooting Underwood and Jaevin Bowie were reportedly looking in nearby cars for items to steal.
The prosecution says Miles was shot multiple times, but it was the shot in the back that took his life.
Underwood’s attorney said he had no motive to kill Miles, but Bowie did. The defense attorney said Miles mentored Bowie as a child and Bowie recognized him the night of the shooting.
The defense will also argue that Bowie got rid of the guns and fled to Mississippi after the shooting and changed his story multiple times during police interrogations.
Jaevin Bowie was also linked to the killing. He pleaded guilty last year to lesser charges in exchange for his testimony at Underwood’s trial.