Mistaken identity thought in Muncie IN murder

Suspect in Muncie shooting mistook victim for another

By Rick Yencer

MUNCIE, INDIANA (NEWS) -  More was learned about a murder surrounded by drugs and money this week when police arrested a suspect already accused of drug possession.

Jason Hoskins, 24, was initially charged with murder and criminal recklessness with a deadly weapon in the shooting of Robert L. Smith, 38, last Saturday. Hoskins refused to talk with police and is held without bond in jail awaiting arraignment.

Police investigator Brad Wiemer said Hoskins was identified by witnesses as the shooter, although other witnesses indicated Hoskins thought he was shooting at someone else.

Smith was found in his van last Saturday night after being shot in the head in a parking lot at Willard and Hackley streets near Heekin Park. Police later found another scene at 915 E. Fifth St. where several shell casings were found.

An informant told police that Hoskins along with Traveaun Williams, and Aaron Jefferson were involved in the the shooting after an apparent robbery of drugs and money happened on Fifth Street, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Police later learned Danny Cook was in the van with Smith along with Johnnie B. Williams and the trio went to that neighborhood to buy some crack cocaine. Smith and the others circled the house on Fifth Street when someone started shooting 

Cook told police that after Smith drove the van into a retaining wall, he drove it into the parking lot after finding Smith died from the gunshot wound.

Both Cook and Williams fled the scene, although Cook told police he told a passing motorist what had happened.

Williams told police that he was inside buying cocaine when someone shot at the van and he returned to his house after being told by Cook that Smith had died. The two then proceeded to smoke cocaine, according to the probable cause affidavit.

A witness said that Hoskins was upset by threats made by Jeron Strong to Hoskins' friend, Doug Garrett and then shot at the van, apparently paranoid about the threats. Other witnesses at the house also said Hoskins was the shooter.

Hoskins turned himself in at his attorney's office and made no statement to police. He is awaiting trial on marijuana possession and receiving stolen property after a traffic stop last year.

Neighbors in the area recently said a handful of crack houses have popped up with people doing and selling drugs. 

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