Death penalty sought for Ronald Exantus
Commonwealth’s Attorney Gordie Shaw has filed a notice of intent to seek the death penalty for the 32-year-old Indianapolis man accused of murdering a 6-year-old boy in his family’s Versailles home. The case against Ronald Exantus was eligible for a death penalty because of the murder and first-degree burglary charges, according to Shaw. “And obviously,” he added, “the circumstances (of this case) justify us giving notice that we’re seeking death as option.” According to an indictment returned by a Woodford County grand jury on Dec. 9, Exantus unlawfully entered a home at 311 Douglas Avenue and then committed murder when he intentionally caused the death of Logan Tipton by stabbing him with a knife. Shaw said he does not anticipate any additional charges being filed against Exantus, who has also been charged with two counts of second-degree assault (felonies) and one count of fourth-degree assault, a misdemeanor. Those charges stem from Exantus allegedly causing physical injuries to Tipton’s father and two sisters, ages 10 and 7. According to Versailles Police, Exantus entered the Tipton family’s home on Douglas Avenue a little before 4 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 7. Logan Tipton was stabbed to death in his bedroom. Two of his siblings suffered non-life threatening lacerations. And Logan’s father, Dean Tipton, scuffled with Exantus and got a kitchen knife away from him before police officers arrived, according to police. With the commonwealth’s notice of intent to seek the death penalty as an appropriate punishment, a jury would also have the option of recommending life without parole or life without parole for 25 years, Shaw said. A judge cannot increase the penalty recommended by a jury, but can reduce a penalty, he said. The last death penalty case that went to trial in Woodford County was actually a Bourbon County case involving an 8-year-old victim, according to Shaw. “The jury returned (a sentence of) life without parole in that case,” he said. Shaw said a death penalty case involving a murder in Woodford County has not occurred in the last 25 years. He said his office is currently handling at least 10 homicide cases in Bourbon, Scott and Woodford counties. Each of those homicide cases is different, “but all of them are just huge tragedies to the families and to the communities where the people (who were killed) come from,” said Shaw. For him and his assistant prosecuting attorneys to do their jobs well, they must put the emotions of a case aside “so there are no mistakes created out of emotion rather than operating on the basis of the law and the facts. And that can be difficult at times, but that’s the way everybody has to do it here,” Shaw said. Exantus remains lodged in the Woodford County Detention Center, with his bond set at $1 million. He is scheduled to appear in Woodford Circuit Court for his arraignment on Jan. 6, 2016, at 9:30 a.m.