Judge moves murder case against Love forward, despite doubts

For the second time, a legal body in Knox County has cast doubt over the state’s case against a rural Galva man who is accused of shooting and killing a man during a fight.

Knox County Judge Raymond Cavanaugh is allowing charges of Murder, Aggravated Battery, and Aggravated Discharge of a Firearm against 58-year-old James Love to continue. Cavanaugh says he cannot find probable cause for Love to be tried on the murder charge, but based on state law, the case as a whole is allowed to continue.

Given that, in addition, manslaughter charges were filed by a grand jury instead of murder counts in the first case he filed,Knox County Assistant State’s Attorney Brian Kerr says he’s still confident he has a good case.

“I’m always bothered by [decisions like that],” says Kerr. “But, as the judge said, this is just a probable cause determination only. He only had to find probable cause on one of the three counts for the case to go forward. Whether or not he finds probable cause on count one (First-Degree Murder) is irrelevant at this time, because the entire information goes forward, and it will be tried by a jury at this point.”

Love’s attorney — Todd Ringel — says he’s not surprised the judge acted the way he did.

“I’m fine with it,” says Ringel. “We’ve still not been able to present any part of our case, and we’re saving that for trial. We’re not going to do it at a stage like this. But, I was very happy with what came out [Monday]. It was very consistent with what I’ve read…in discovery.”

Love allegedly shot 19-year-old Xavier Hartman in the leg during an altercation June 19th near Love’s home along the Knox/Henry County line after Hartman’s truck crashed. Investigators claim Love fired at least two warnings shots before a third shot was fired at Hartman’s leg, perforating both a main artery and a vein, and causing the man’s death.

The first case against Love is expected to be dismissed, though Kerr says he hasn’t officially decided. A pre-trial hearing in the murder case is scheduled for September fourth, with a trial starting as soon as September 17th.

(Pool photo)