Judge finds probable cause in 2012 Gibson Co. murder case

HUMBOLDT, Tenn. —  The preliminary hearing for Benjamin Byrer was held Wednesday afternoon. He sat in Humboldt court, accused in the murder of James Calene in March of 2012.

Screen Shot 2016-10-05 at 6.18.06 PMThe district attorney called on five witnesses to testify, but the defense attorney says their testimonies prove nothing.

“The government has the burden of proving beyond reasonable doubt that he’s guilty of second-degree murder, and they have nothing,” Benjamin Byrer’s attorney, Tim Crocker, said.

Witnesses say Byrer was hysterical on the night in question, yelling and even smashing in his car’s windshield. An investigator with the Gibson County Sheriff’s Office says the defendant’s blood was found on a shirt inside the home and his DNA on a phone cord in the house where Celene’s body was found.Screen Shot 2016-10-05 at 6.17.49 PM

“Ben and the victim were friends,” Crocker said. “There’s no motive. There’s no reason. The government has no reason that Ben would have any notion of killing him for any reason.”

Although Judge Mark Agee agreed there still were some unanswered questioned, he ruled there was probable cause, sending the case to the grand jury.

“I don’t know whether probable cause for manslaughter or if it’s probable cause for second degree,” Judge Agee said. “But it’s probable cause for something.”

If the grand jury decides to indict Byrer, he will have to appear Jan. 9 in Humboldt Circuit Court.

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