Rush County Prosecutor Phil Caviness has been named Special Prosecutor for the Henry County prosecution of Andrew McWhorter. McWhorter was prosecuted for the 2005 killing of Amanda Deweese in New Castle. Originally charged with Murder, McWhorter was found guilty of Voluntary Manslaughter by a Henry County jury after a trial in 2006. He also was found to be a habitual offender and was sentenced to 45 years in prison for the voluntary manslaughter conviction, plus 30 years for the habitual offender adjudication.
McWhorter unsuccessfully appealed his case, and then filed a post conviction relief petition that was also denied. He appealed that decision, and ultimately the Indiana Supreme Court determined that McWhorter’s attorney at trial was ineffective for failing to object to a flawed jury instruction, and found that McWhorter should receive a new trial.
The original jury found him not guilty of the Murder charge, but guilty of Voluntary Manslaughter. Due to double jeopardy restrictions, McWhorter cannot be retried for murder, but can be charged and tried for Voluntary Manslaughter, a Class A Felony that carries a maximum possible sentence of 50 years in prison. He could also face the habitual offender enhancement again.
Caviness stated that he was in the process of making the final charging decisions for the retrial, and planned to meet with the victim’s family soon. He said that McWhorter has been either in jail or prison since his arrest in 2005, and remains there pending retrial. The matter is set for a status hearing on January 23, 2014, in Henry County Circuit Court 1.
A special prosecutor is needed because McWhorter’s original trial attorney is now employed by the Henry County Prosecutor’s Office, creating a conflict of interest for that office. Kit Crane, the original prosecutor on the case, is now a Judge in Henry County, and Judge Mary Willis will preside over the case as it proceeds.