County public defender money almost gone

Before the murder trial of Daniel Messel began last week, the county’s fund that pays for public defenders was almost broke.

Messel, of Bloomington, is accused of killing an Indiana University student and dumping her body in Brown County last April.

The fund began the year with $14,000, Brown County Auditor Beth Mulry told the county council July 18. There was only $1,800 remaining at the time of the meeting, with bills still to be paid against that balance.

Mulry said the Public Defender Board could transfer money from its budget line for public defender conflicts and appeals. However, about half of that fund is usually depleted in a year anyway.

Council did not take action to fix the situation. Mulry asked any council members with contacts on the public defender board to find out what they intend to do, as she had not been successful in reaching them.