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Two Elizabethtown men facing multiple felony charges including murder were arraigned Thursday morning in circuit court.
Jamie B. Wagers, 24, and Robert J. Tarafa, 26, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Wagers is charged in the death of Christian F. Higdon, 20, of Leitchfield. Cindy Higdon, Christian’s mother, said her adopted son would have celebrated his 21st birthday Wednesday.
According to state police, Wagers struck Higdon in the head with a hatchet June 16 at a Magers Drive residence. He then approached a second man “in a threatening manner” with the hatchet.
Police said Wagers had been court ordered to vacate the residence.
He was indicted in August on charges of murder, criminal attempt to commit murder, tampering with physical evidence and violation of a protective order.
On Thursday, Wagers appeared in court with hands and feet shackled, which Jailer Danny Allen said is not out of the ordinary. According to Allen, inmates’ hands typically are restrained if they are “mouthy” with deputies.
Wagers told Judge Kelly Mark Easton, who was sitting in for Judge Ken Howard, he did not remember his attorney or being in district court.
He requested to be represented by a public defender and pleaded not guilty.
A trial date is set for Aug. 12, 2013, which Cindy Higdon said will be the day Christian’s son, Jayden, celebrates his second birthday.
Tarafa is accused in the shooting death of Frank Knapp, 32, at Memorial Apartments in Elizabethtown.
According to Elizabethtown Police Department, Tarafa and Knapp were involved in an argument that ended with the men struggling over guns. During the struggle, two shots were fired, striking Knapp.
Police said Knapp attempted to leave the residence but Tarafa continued shooting, ultimately firing nine shots into Knapp with two weapons.
Tarafa was indicted in August on charges of murder, two counts of possession of a handgun by a convicted felon, tampering with physical evidence, two counts of receiving a stolen firearm and second-degree persistent felony offense.
On Thursday, Tarafa requested to be represented by a public defender. A trial date is set for June 10, 2013.
Attorney Heather Strotman with the Department of Public Advocacy requested Tarafa undergo a competency evaluation.
According to Strotman, the defendant has attempted suicide in Hardin County Detention Center, and his behavior has changed as he is not receiving medication.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jeff England requested the defense submit a written motion for a competency evaluation.
Both men remain lodged at the detention center in lieu of $500,000 cash bonds.
Sarah Bennettcan be reached at (270) 505-1750 or email@example.com.