William Blankenship III, 22, of Knox, was in Porter County Superior Court 1 in Valparaiso yesterday for his initial hearing.
Porter County Prosecutor Brian Gensel has formally charged Blankenship with Escape as a Class C Felony, plus Auto Theft, Fleeing Law Enforcement, and Criminal Mischief as Class D Felonies. Blankenship pleaded not guilty to all charges and bond was set at $25,000 cash or surety.
Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford’s court has scheduled an omnibus hearing for Blankenship on May 7th, a pre-trial hearing on June 4th and his jury trial is set for July 9th at 1:00 p.m. in Porter County Superior Court 1.
Blankenship stole a Kouts police car on January 10th after a Kouts police officer placed him in the back seat of the car and he hopped into the front seat and drove the car away while the officer was searching his car for more evidence. In a conversation with police, he reportedly stated that whatever the officer found in the car wasn’t his. When police asked what the substance was, he said he didn’t know what the officer found, but insisted it wasn’t his. He also told police that he’s rather be dead than go to jail.
Police found the car in a ditch in LaPorte County the next morning. Blankenship surrendered to police two days after the incident at a home in Knox. He is incarcerated in the Porter County Jail.