The trial for a Salem man accused of a double murder began Monday in the new Washington County Justice Center.

Joe Hambel is accused of killing 37-year-old Valerie Dicus and 36-year-old Joseph Hobson in August 2016.

If convicted Hambel could face up to 65 years in jail on each murder charge

Hamble told police that he killed 36-year-old Joseph Hobson and 37-year-old Valerie Dicus with a .32 caliber handgun saying that ‘he just took care of one of Washington County’s biggest drug problems.’

According to a probable cause affidavit, Hambel, of Salem, drove to a home at 304 West Small Street, Apartment 13 during the early morning hours of Aug. 19, 2016 because he believed Hobson and Dicus, who is related to Hambel, were dealing drugs.

Dicus died of a single gunshot wound and Hobson died of multiple gunshot wounds.

Hambel told police he accidentally shot Dicus.

Hambel was arrested by the Indiana State Police the evening of August 20th and charged with two counts of murder.

A 17-year-old at the time of the murder told police that he was with Hambel on the night of Aug. 19 through the early morning hours Aug. 20 and drove to 304 W. Small St. twice.

Upon learning of the death investigation, Salem City Police Officer Ronnie Mays contacted investigating officers to tell them of a strange encounter he had on Friday.

The probable cause affidavit says a man knocked on his door while Mays was at home. When Mays opened the door, he saw the man was wearing a handgun.

The man told Mays he was related to Valerie Dicus and that he had a nephew in Dicus’ home on Small Street where he said drugs were being dealt. He told Mays he wanted to do something about the drug problem in Salem. Mays later realized that man was Hambel.

Hambel told police his nephew lived in the home and he was concerned for the boy’s well being given the alleged drug activity occurring in the home.