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Decatur man facing murder charge pleads not guilty to 'similar' case of attempted murder
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Decatur man facing murder charge pleads not guilty to 'similar' case of attempted murder

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DECATUR — Prosecutors say Charles E. Gardner almost stabbed a man to death less than 24 hours before fatally stabbing Decatur victim Cody Drew in brutal attacks described as similar to each other. 

Gardner, 48, has already pleaded not guilty to killing Drew, 24, on the night of Aug. 9, 2018. He entered another not guilty plea in Macon County Circuit Court on Wednesday at a preliminary hearing into new charges of attempted murder and armed violence relating to the stabbing of a 36-year-old man less than 24 hours earlier on the night of Aug. 8, 2018.

First Assistant Macon County State’s Attorney Nichole Kroncke said Gardner was linked to the earlier stabbing by Robert Maynard, an investigator for the state attorney’s office. He had probed the Drew homicide and came across a witness who had seen Gardner approach a man involved in an argument in the 1000 block of West Cerro Gordo Street the night before and appear to repeatedly “punch” the man before fleeing.

Maynard said the witness told him that Gardner’s “attitude and demeanor” in the days before the attack was “crazy.” Kroncke then asked Maynard: “Did (the witness) further state that the defendant had been sharpening a machete and also a pitchfork and saying he wanted to kill someone?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Maynard replied.

The victim, who staggered to a nearby gas station after the assault to call for help, was found to have suffered serious stab wounds to his abdomen and liver. Maynard said he connected Gardner to the case after checking Decatur police records and realizing that the man Gardner was seen punching was in fact the stabbing victim police had found at the gas station.

Defense attorney Caleb Brown objected that seeing someone punch a victim was not the same as seeing them stab them. He told Judge Phoebe Bowers: “The investigator testified that he did not speak to anyone who said that Mr. Gardner stabbed (the victim). There is no direct evidence of that happening and so, even by the low standard of a preliminary hearing, I don’t believe the (probable cause) burden has been met.”

Kroncke replied that the only person seen to have physical contact with the victim before he was wounded was Gardner. She also pointed out that the witnesses had also described Gardner as appearing to repeatedly punch Cody Drew on the following night when he was fatally attacked, not realizing at first he was being stabbed instead.

Kroncke said that murder turned out to be “almost identical” to the earlier attempted murder in the way Gardner had attacked both victims.

Judge Bowers agreed and found probable cause to hold Gardner over for trial. She scheduled a pretrial hearing for April 7 and placed the case on the trial list of Judge Jeffrey Geisler, the same judge dealing with the Cody Drew murder case. Gardner remains held without bond in the Macon County Jail.

Prosecutors allege he killed Drew after the victim refused to hand over a share of a $150 video poker jackpot. A pretrial hearing on that case is also scheduled for April 7.


Contact Tony Reid at (217) 421-7977. Follow him on Twitter: @TonyJReid

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