Katelyn Markham death case: Man accused of perjury gets trial date

Jonathan Palmerton is accused of making a false statement ‘under oath or affirmation.’

HAMILTON — Eight weeks after arraignment, a Fairfield man accused of lying during official proceedings in connection with the investigation into the 2011 death of Katelyn Markham, was back in court Thursday where a trial date was set for this summer.

Jonathan Palmerton, 35, was arraigned Feb. 22 in Butler County Common Pleas Court for perjury after his arrest on a sealed indictment.

Judge Jennifer McElfresh set bond at $50,000 cash or surety and bond was posted within hours of the arraignment. Palmerton is fitted with a GPS monitor.

Pretrial hearings have been continued in Palmerton’s case twice and his attorney Ken Crehan said despite the lack of discovery from the prosecution, he would ask for a trial date to be set.

McElfresh set Palmerton’s trial to begin Aug. 7.

A key development, namely the indictment and arrest of Markham’s fiancé John Carter for murder in her slaying, complicates the Palmerton case and could lead to another continuance, according to prosecutors.

Markham, a free-spirited art student, was just days away from her 22nd birthday when she vanished in August 2011 from her Fairfield townhouse. Her skeletal remains were found April 7, 2013 in a remote wooded area in Indiana about 30 miles from her home. Her death was ruled a homicide, but the cause of death has not been determined.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

It remained unsolved until March when an 18-month investigation by the Butler County Prosecutor’s Office resulted in Carter’s arrest. Carter’s trial is set to being June 24, 2024.

At arraignment, county Prosecutor Michael Gmoser shared some of the investigative evidence against Carter that is including in an affidavit for search warrants to search a number of locations, including Carter’s family home and Palmerton’s residence in 2011.

Media sources, including the Journal-News, have asked the judge to unseal those search warrants now that arrests have been made and the indictments are no longer secret. Butler County Common Pleas Judge Dan Haughey, who signed the search warrants and is presiding over the Carter case, has not yet made a decision, but a hearing has been set for next week.

Carter’s attorneys are in possession of the affidavit and search warrants, according to prosecutors. And Palmerton’s attorney is also entitled to them.

Perjury is a third-degree felony.

According to the indictment, on April 21, 2022 Palmerton is accused of making a false statement “under oath or affirmation, or knowingly swear or affirm the truth of a false statement previously made, when either statement is material.”

Palmerton is accused of lying in connection with the investigation. It is possible he was called to testify before a grand jury, and prosecutors are alleging he did not tell the truth. Gmoser said Wednesday he is not permitted by law to divulge grand jury proceedings.

Search warrants were executed at Carter’s and Palmerton’s residences in 2011. Investigators from his office and the Fairfield Police Dept. also dug up yards looking for evidence. Evidence was taken from the yards and homes.

What happened to Katelyn Markham and how she died has remained a mystery for years, despite a $100,000 reward and the efforts of multiple police agencies, private detectives, television shows and a movie.

Indiana State Police and at least two private detectives also have investigated the case with no arrests, just lots of theories.

Markham’s disappearance was treated as a missing person case by Fairfield police when she vanished from her Dorshire Drive residence. She did not show up for work at David’s Bridal near Tri-County Mall.

Markham’s fiancé, John Carter, called 911 to report her missing. In the call Carter said, “I know you’re not supposed to report a missing person before 24 hours, but my fiancée is missing, and I can’t find her anywhere.”

Markham left her car, keys, dog and all personal belongings, with the exception of her cell phone, at her townhouse. Her cell phone was turned off at about 12:45 a.m. on Aug. 14, 2011. The GPS device on her phone also was turned off.

Police and volunteers searched for months, and then years, for the missing woman.

When the skeletal remains were found in April 2013 in a remote wooded area in Cedar Grove, Ind., within days, confirmation came that the remains were Markham’s.

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