Jury returns not guilty verdict in rape trial

Lisa Trigg
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — A man jailed for more than a year awaiting trial on an accusation of rape, strangulation and criminal confinement was acquitted by a jury Thursday in Vigo Superior Court 3.

Jeffrey Lee Rightsell, 44, burst into tears as Judge David Bolk read the not guilty verdict for all three criminal charges.

Rightsell had been accused of class-B felony rape, class-C felony strangulation and class-D felony criminal confinement for the Oct. 15, 2009, incident that allegedly occurred in a room at the Regal Inn on North Third Street.

The 12-member jury heard testimony from the alleged victim, two of her friends, Terre Haute Police investigators and Rightsell. They also viewed text cell messages that Rightsell allegedly sent to the victim…

“I think the state had a very weak case,” Garcia told the Tribune-Star. “It was a sloppy, slipshod investigation. As I said during closing arguments, I know children who spend more effort looking for a lost dog.”



When I think back to one of the most difficult, confusing and ambiguous time in my life, I can’t help but think about a person who came into my world that became exactly what I and my family needed at that very moment.  My family had been involved in a year-long criminal case.  Life events, such as this, cause you to think in ways that you’ve never had to think, and really clouds one’s judgment.  This is exactly where we were at that time and needed guidance, comfort and most importantly non-biased and objective advice that would lead to be highest probable outcomes.  In our case, we had no interest in hearing the best possible outcome, we wanted to know what is the most likely and worst case scenario, so that we could make family decisions that we knew would have long-term impacts.

As we sat in his office, Mr. Garcia was calm and very informative, clear and thorough in collecting the current state assessment.   He was able to take our collective information, and play back the possible outcomes based on his extensive experience in his specific areas of law – he was encouraging yet never allowed false hope to arrive.

In preparation for trial, Mr. Garcia met with me and others involved to rehearse and manage every aspect of the trial. During trial Mr. Garcia really shined.  His performance and professional abilities were astonishing.  He displayed a true command of the courtroom, prosecutors, judge and ultimately the jurors.  His ability analyze and adjust for human behavior – in the moment – was incredible to watch and beneficial to outcomes.

I cannot say enough good things about Mr. Garcia. My family and I view him not only as a very aware and alert officer of the court, but also a person we developed a lifetime relationship of trust – which considering circumstances is one of the most valuable aspects of our journey.

Lia V.



A Marion County jury found Herbert Barber not guilty of murder Tuesday, agreeing the fatal shooting of a man who was threatening Barber in September was an act of self-defense.

“Herb said many times that he didn’t want to kill that guy,” said Barber’s attorney, Luther T. Garcia of Indianapolis. “He just wanted him to stop.”

A jury heard testimony over two days, then deliberated about three hours before returning the not guilty verdict about 9:30 p.m. The prosecutor had asked that the jury consider a lesser offense, voluntary manslaughter, but the panel also rejected that charge.





I wanted to let you know this because for the last few weeks I have been reflecting on how much you helped me with my case this past fall. I don’t know if I have ever felt so vulnerable and helpless as I did the first time we talked. Your assurances at the time were helpful but I was very scared, and my faith in the legal system and humanity was very lacking.

During the trial many things were made clear to me. I know that this is your profession, but really felt that you took my case and my future personally. I saw you carry my burden on your shoulders. I saw you share my fears. I saw you fight for me like I was one of your own. I saw you protect me.

Luther, my family and I owe you a great debt.


Michael C.